Saturday, June 23, 2012


In old timey Scotland, princes of three different kingdoms gather to fight for the betrothal of princess Merida, who's having none of it and uses a loophole to fight for her own hand. All of that is in the preview and that moment is royally awesome.
However, rather than the rest of the movie really delivering what the previews promised (Merida winning the archery contest and then leaving home to have awesome adventures of her own) it instead decides to have a plot and a lesson and go all Emperor's New Groove on us (in a person-changes-into-an-animal way, not a wacky-humor way).
I did like Brave. I'd go see it again, which is more than I can say for a lot of other Pixar movies. I'm envious of Merida's bitchin' hair and now that I know what the plot is, I won't be bitterly disappointed by the lack of adventure the second time around.
It has officially joined the list of Pixar Movies I Actively Like (upping the grand total to four) and is the only Pixar movie I can think of that doesn't have a segment that tears your soul out. But I am still a little pissed at the previews for making the movie look morecool and adventurous than it ended up being.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dream Casting: Rock Of Ages

I guess this was inevitable. Let's say they didn't keep the play's plot (because I have the movie's character list in front of me and not the play's) but they did let me cast it. What would I have done differently?
I'll put the restriction on myself that I can't cast any of the people I saw in Rock Of Ages on stage or keep any of the people who were in the movie, unless I put them in a different part. I liked some of the cast, but I'm changing them all around. 'Cause I feel like it.
The two leads were the hardest for me to cast because 1) I don't really like either character, 2) I'm not familiar with young actors and actresses (and especially not ones who sing), 3) none of the singers I like would be right for the part. So I just picked young-ish actors I know have been in musicals.

Drew (male lead) - Daniel Radcliffe (I can't picture it, but it's a fun bit of stunt casting, I guess)
Sherrie (female lead) - Alexa Vega (can't really picture her, either, but she was good in Repo!)
Stacee Jaxx (rock god) - Eugene Hutz
Dennis Dupree (bar owner) - Tim Roth
Lonnie (bar owner's assistant) - Johnny Galecki (or possibly Jospeh Gordon-Levitt)
Mike Whitmore (politician guy) - Chris Hardwick (a nod to the workshop cast I loved so much)
Patricia Whitmore (politician guy's protester wife) - Lady Gaga (more stunt casting, but it'd be hilarious)
Paul Gill (Stacee's manager) - Nicolas Cage
Constance (reporter chick) - Catherine Zeta-Jones
Justice (strip club owner) - Tia Carrere (I liked Mary J. Blige and would have kept her if I hadn't put the no-same-actors restriction on myself. Queen Latifah might also be good, but it seems a bit like a rehash of her character in Chicago)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rock Of Ages

All right, about seven years ago my friend Lauren and I went to see the workshop production of Rock Of Ages in Los Angeles. And I loved it. It was brilliant. The songs were awesome, the cast included Chris Hardwick, Kyle Gass, Tom Lenk and other cool people I'm not remembering right now. We had an absolute blast at that show. So this review is probably going to be more of a comparison than a true review.
And the odds are not in the movie's favor.
Because ... Okay, if you were casting a musical, don't you think for the female lead you'd try to cast a woman who can actually fucking sing? 'Cause I would. But apparently the people who were in charge of casting this movie didn't feel that was necessary and instead cast a woman who sounded like a fucking Chipmunks record, but not in an amusing, novelty way. More in a stab-yourself-in-the-ears-so-you-won't-have-to-listen-to-her-wretched-voice kind of way.
They also decided to cast as the reporter (a role that didn't exist in the play) an actress who looks exactly like the actress who plays Sherrie, the female lead. I didn't actually know they weren't the same person until the end credits. I don't have prosopagnosia or anything (I actually have an easier time distinguishing faces than a lot of people I know) but I sincerely had no idea they weren't the same actress. So I feel like that was a poor casting choice.
Also, I just want to point out that having the character still be named Sherrie but not use the song Oh Sherrie, but to still use the song Sister Christian in reference to her in spite of the fact that it isn't once mentioned in the movie that her last name is Christian, is confusing.
Not one of my favorite lines from the play ("I have a diamond driveway!;" "I'm blonde, not retarded;" "I'm not gay! I'm just German!;" "No, yawn, that's a dude, I'll be hungry again in an hour;" "Remember the time we fucked that llama?;" "Wow. A vest made out of jeans. You're rad.") ended up in the movie (although it's possible that at least two of those were improvised and never in the script at all).
Now, I have been complaining since the moment I found out about it that Tom Cruise was chosen to play Stacee Jaxx in the movie. Over and over I said "How the hell do you go from Chris Hardwick to Tom Cruise?!" And I still don't understand the progression. But I do have to say, Tom Cruise was not as terrible as I thought he'd be. He definitely had a different take on the character and I wish he would have put on a fucking shirt (I have the same problem with Tom Cruise that Lauren has with the guy who plays Captain America: it makes me physically ill to look at him) but he had the whole sleazy thing down, and he was actually a pretty decent singer. So, good for him!
On the other hand, there's an aspect of Stacee Jaxx that I feel like is incredibly important that Tom Cruise just doesn't have: charisma. The whole point of the guy is he's charismatic and women are drawn to him in spite of the fact that he's a complete and utter slimebag. So, while on one level I was impressed with Tom Cruise's performance, he didn't have that one quality that I feel really makes the character work. At one point I found my mind wandering and wondering who I would cast if Chris Hardwick was not an option.
The answer: Eugene Hutz. Of course. Because it's me and I think he should be in everything. But the man is absolutely made of charisma and I think seeing him play someone so ridiculously smarmy would be hilarious because nothing about him in real life seems sleazy like that. It'd be fun, he'd have the magnetism that the character needs and nobody would mind that he wasn't wearing shirt. He never wears a shirt anyway; no one would notice the difference.
Anyway, let's see, what else is there to say?
So much of the plot was changed that it barely seemed worth keeping the title Rock Of Ages. The whole Sherrie-sleeps-with-Stacee-Jaxx-who-proceeds-to-ruin-her-life thing was traded for a forgettable-male-lead-thinks-Sherrie-slept-with-Stacee-Jaxx-even-though-she-didn't-romantic-comedy-misunderstanding-bullshit-that-I-hate thing. The whole Germans-trying-to-buy-up-the-Sunset-Strip thing was replaced with a politician's-wife-trying-to-close-down-the-Sunset-Strip thing which was just as awkwardly shoehorned in as the play's subplot but wasn't quite as effective. Which is too bad, because I actually really like Catherine Zeta-Jones, even if she isn't any good at faking an American accent.
A lot of the songs were different from the ones in the play I saw (I would like to reiterate that I saw the workshop production, which means it's possible what I saw wasn't anything like the play it became, which would make all my complaints even more petty and ridiculous), but they did keep one of my favorite moments (SPOILER): Lonnie and Dennis singing Can't Fight This Feeling to each other. It's just so sweet.
Which leads me to the subject of Russell Brand. Why is it that, in my Monty Python documentary, I want to smack him for being pretentious but in every movie I've seen him, I find him charming and lovable? I guess I just like him as an actor. (I've heard he's a very nice guy. But he really did seem to be trying too hard to sound smart in the Python documentary. And I have a hard time respecting anyone who would legally bind himself to Katie Perry (I know that's not how she spells her first name; I deliberately use the more common spelling because I despise her), who I find offensive in all ways. She's possibly the only woman on the planet who has a worse singing voice than the chick who played Sherrie.)
Eli Roth had a cameo for no discernable reason, the plot went off on a tagent about Forgettable Male Lead joining a boy band circa 1991 in spite of the fact that the rest of the movie takes place in 1987, Alec Baldwin wasn't as good as Kyle Gass, Bryan Cranston may as well have not even been in the movie for all they gave his character to do, the female lead absolutely cannot sing in any capacity and I fucking despise her and her goddamn Chipmunk voice, Stacee Jaxx wasn't funny at all but somehow Tom Cruise may have put in the best performance in the movie (which is pretty sad for the movie), Paul Giamatti (who I usually like) was disgusting (which I guess just means he's a good actor) and, more than anything else, this movie really made me miss the play.
And it's gone. The play that I saw does not actually exist anymore. The cast have all moved on and are doing other things with their lives and I have no idea how much of the script changed between the workshop and the Broadway (off-Broadway?) production. It's gone. And I'm bummed because now the closest I can come to ever seeing it again is this stupid movie.
And the movie is nothing like the play I saw. It has the same character names and the same basic idea on which they built their plot, but they built an entirely new plot and completely changed many of the characters's personalities. So I'm bummed.
I feel like there has to be an upside. There has to be something nice I can say about the movie other than "Tom Cruise was better than I expected" and "Russell Brand continues to make characters likeable." Um. Mary J. Blige was good as the strip club owner but they didn't give her much to do. Some of the songs were done well. It was bright and colorful, which I enjoy.
Overall, I'm disappointed in the movie. It would have been better if they'd kept the play's plot and if they'd let me cast it. And if they'd kept the play's plot. I hear tell elements of the story were changed so the audience would like Sherrie more; I guess middle America doesn't like it when starstruck fans have sex with rock gods. But I actually like that aspect of the play. It's more interesting to have characters make mistakes than have Sherrie be "perfect" and throw in the stupid romantic comedy misunderstanding cliche. (SPOILER: And I think it's much more in character for Stacee Jaxx to use I Want To Know What Love Is as a ploy to get a girl to sleep with him than to have him actually mean it and end up with that girl at the end of the movie.)
The movie was too glossy, and not nearly as interesting or as fun as the play.
And I know I sound like such a Rock Of Ages hipster; "I liked it before it was cool." But I can't help it; I did like it before it was cool. And I continued to speak and think highly of it when it became a hit in New York (although I did continue to insist that no matter who they got to play Stacee Jaxx, there's no way he could top Chris Hardwick. And I stand by that).

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Enter The Void

Enter The Void is shown from the point of view of a guy named Oscar. Literally. Like, everything will go dark for a second every time he blinks. There's a moment near the beginning where he's looking in a mirror that I cannot for the life of me figure out how they shot.
Anyway, he dies and most of the movie is his ghost floating around, watching everyone's reactions to his death and reliving his life. There's not much of a plot to speak of, it's mostly just a pantheon of drugs, joyless sex and death. Visually parts of it were interesting but I didn't focus much on the movie while I was watching it. My mind wandered a lot.
And all the thoughts it wandered to were lonely, unhappy ones. I had a hard time falling asleep and I woke up in a completely lousy mood.
Thinking about it now, I can't figure out what the point was. I can't just write everything off as "no reason" like Rubber did. It seemed very much like the director was trying to make a point. But it was so aimless, almost entirely plotless and left me feeling completely empty. It took forever to say nothing; I really don't see why it needed to be two and a half hours long.
Fuck you, movie.
(Credit where credit is due, though: the opening credits are fucking awesome.)

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Monday, June 18, 2012


"Ladies and gentlemen, the film you are about to see today is an homage to 'no reason', the most powerful element of style."
Rubber is about a tire who goes around blowing stuff up with his mind. Because he's a scanner, I guess.
The thing is, Rubber isn't really about that at all. I mean, I guess that's the closest I can get to describing the plot without giving anything away, but the movie isn't really about the tire. It isn't about the police trying to catch the tire (who has been blowing up people's heads) and it isn't really about the spectators, who are sitting around in the desert and watching the "movie" through binoculars as it plays out.
I mean, it is about all those things. But it isn't. It isn't really about anything. It's just a weird movie for the sake of weird movie. It really is all about 'no reason.' And the opening speech explaining that was by far my favorite part of the movie.
The rest of it was good, the rest of it was interesting, the rest of it was worth seeing and I'm going to probably recommend Rubber to a lot of people. But I'm glad I watched it on Netflix rather than buy it. I don't know that I'd want to watch it all that often.
I probably wouldn't mind seeing it again. It's probably funnier a second time. But even though it's strange and interesting the whole way through, it's also sort of boring and aimless. Nothing really happens.
I think Rubber would make a good double feature with The Bed Sitting Room.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Hunger Games

I could start by pointing out the plot similarities between The Hunger Games and Battle Royale but everybody's already done that. So I'll just mention that I noticed it, too, and move on.
When this movie came out, I read that a lot of people were all up in arms about how violent and gory it was, which set up an expectation that did not deliver. It could have used more gore.
I have not read the books but I think maybe I ought to. Maybe they'll live up to my violence expectations. Also, then I won't have to look at dead-eyed Jennifer Lawrence through the whole thing. And what kind of fucktarded name is Katness? Ugh.
Okay, so I guess I should point out that I did enjoy the movie. But I sort of enjoyed it peripherally, if that makes sense. I loved the outlandish makeup and costumes on the people who live in the Capitol and my favorite characters were all people who work for the hunger games: Elizabeth Banks's weird duchessy spokeswoman lady, Woody Harrelson's jaded alcoholic mentor, Stanley Tucci's smarmy commentator talk show host and Lenny Kravitz's sympathetic costumer (I do not like Lenny Kravitz as a musician but he was great in this movie). They were by far the most interesting and entertaining characters and I'd rather watch a movie about them.
The problem with The Hunger Games's teenage pro- and an- tagonists is the same problem with those in the Harry Potter universe; they're divided into Clearly Good and Cartoonishly Evil. The people from Districts One and Two are the Slytherins, District Twelve is Gryffindor, that kind of thing. I hate that. When I read the Harry Potter books I eventually get fed up and shout at them for doing things that way; in real life there's no way all Slytherins are evil. But it's easier to have clear heroes and villains, so they just turn certain characters into over the top assholes and it pisses me off. The Hunger Games does that, too.
Which sort of ties into my other big complaint about the story; we only really learn anything about the two kids from District Twelve. There are twenty two other kids involved in these games and we, as an audience, learn that one other one is nice, four other ones are unrealistically evil and the rest are maybe given one line of dialogue if they're lucky. It just wasn't interesting to me. I guess I prefer ensemble casts; I'd rather know everyone's backstories and follow everyone's journeys through the games. I'd probably care more that way when they start getting killed off.
I guess that's not the point of this story. So I guess I didn't care so much about the point of this story.
Actually, I spent a lot of The Hunger Games thinking about what I would have preferred to see or what I would have done differently. I would have ended it differently, too. I can't say when I would have ended it, out of respect for people who have not seen it (or read the books, I guess) but plan to. I will say that my ending would have been more ambiguous and more bleak. (I also would have stopped at one; there are two more books.)
As it stands, I suppose I ought to read the books. As far as the movie goes, it was fine but clearly I had some problems with it.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman

You know what's great about Chris Hemsworth? Cabin In The Woods. You see, I saw Thor and I hated it and I hated him. Stupid cryny whybaby Thor; shut up! But then I saw Cabin In The Woods and I didn't mind Chris Hemsworth in that. I thought he was quite likeable. Then I saw The Avengers and didn't have a problem with Thor in that movie; I don't know if the character changed or if my new outlook on the actor changed my mind about him. And now I think he was probably the most likeable character in Snow White And The Huntsman. And, again, I don't know if that's really because of the character or if it's because I'm such a fan of Cabin In The Woods that Chris Hemsworth gets a free pass.
Snow White And The Hunstman has a lot of fantastic visuals (although my favorite shot from the preview does not show up in the movie) and a somewhat interesting take on the fairy tale. Everything involving the evil queen Ravenna was pretty much A plus as far as I'm concerned. She was scary, she was evil, she had fantastic costumes and almost all of the really visually striking moments in the movie revolved around her.
However, and I'm sure a lot of people have mentioned this, I question the accuracy of a magic mirror that claims Kristen Stewart is prettier than Charlize Theron. I mean, I suppose it's a matter of taste, but so much of what makes Charlize Theron attractive in this movie is the way she carries herself and plays her part. She acts every bit the evil queen and it comes out gorgeous.
Kristen Stewart on the other hand, comes across the same as she did in the one Twilight movie I saw and every picture I've seen of her. She looks bored, mildly confused and more than a little annoyed. All the characters in the movie talk about Snow White's rebellious nature, her strong spirit, her beauty and her power but those are all informed attributes. I only know they're there because the other characters keep saying they're there. The actress never bothers to show them to us.
I know a lot of people mock Keira Knightly for being thin and not being the world's greatest actress (I have no qualms with her) but near the end of this movie Kristen Stewart has a big rallying the troops speech which reminded me vaguely of the speech Keira Knightly gives near the end of the third Pirates movie. But, while Elizabeth Swann made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and made me want to get up and cheer and hoist the colors goddamnit, Snow White made me want to tell someone to shut that screechy woman up. So there that is.
I'm really annoyed with Kristen Stewart, honestly, because I thought she was great in Panic Room and nothing else. Why did she feel the need to stop acting if she wasn't going to quit acting?
All I'm saying is, it's clear she only got the part in this movie because she's the star of a popular film franchise and not because she could actually play the character well.
I also had a problem with the way they did the dwarves in this movie. Yes, I love Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Nick Frost and all the other actors who played them, but why bother hiring name actors and dwarf doubles for them rather than just hire little people to play the roles? There are little people out there who could play the parts and would probably love the chance to play real characters instead of Mini Mes and jesters.
And when are bad guys going to learn that when they have the one person who can stop them in their clutches, they should just kill them rather than explain to them why they need to die? It's not going to matter in thirty seconds anyway. Just get the job done!
All that being said, there were moments of Snow White And The Huntsman I really enjoyed. There just could have been a heck of a lot more than them.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012


It was two or three years ago when I first heard of Inkubus. Whenever my last Robert Englund phase was. Two years, I think. And I was very, very excited to see it.
I didn't really know what to expect because I didn't really hear any plot descriptions. I also didn't really want to. It's fun to go in not knowing.
So I can't say whether or not Inkubus lived up to my expectations. I didn't love it. My mind kept wandering so I guess the story wasn't the most interesting.
However, Inkubus has one really huge factor that made it good enough to keep (you all know what's coming):
Robert Englund
He's glorious in this. Very smooth and controlled, one of those suave sort of villains. I love that. And there was one moment, actually the only moment in the movie that creeped me out, that I think proves what a fine actor the man can be. All he did was lift up his hands. That's it. He says a line and suddenly lifts his hands up, just to show that they're no longer handcuffed. And my heart felt like it was going to leap out of my mouth.
Inkubus is a movie for Robert Englund fans if nobody else. He's in it enough to be worth the price of admission and he put in a lovely, creepy performance. None of the ham that he seems to be known for. (Don't get me wrong, I love my hammy actors. But it's so nice when they can reel it in.)

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Friday, June 1, 2012


This is a perfect example of story getting in the way of a good action movie.
300 is, for the most part, basically just Manliness: The Movie. It starts with a little kid killing a wolf and then growing up to be King Gerard Butler. I thought I'd have to wait through most of the movie to hear the famous "THIS. IS. SPARTA!" bit but it happens pretty much immediately and is followed by him kicking a dude into a bottomless pit. Why there's a bottomless pit in Sparta's town square, I do not know.
After that movie consists of a lot of dudes wearing basically just red cloak, black underpants and sandals (you know, effective armor) walking around, shouting and killing the shit out of some Persians.
Every once in a while, though, the movie tries to develop characters and plot. There are a bunch of scenes with King Gerard Butler's wife back in Sparta talking to people. What are women doing in this movie? And then there's a subplot about a hunchbacked dude who's bitter because he can't fight.
Could someone get that story out of here? I can't see the manliness.
300 is full of famous quotes ("Then we will fight in the shade," "Tonight we dine in Hell!", that sort of thing) that the internet has claimed as its own and turned into nonsense like this. I happen to love it, but it's silly and actually knowing all the famous lines took away from the movie a bit. I kept listening for the famous lines rather than just enjoy the movie.
It was good, though. It was very cool visually and the action scenes were bitchin'. I just would have preferred less plot and more violence and shouting.

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