Archive for the 'movies' Category

Alien vs. Predator vs. Bleah

My son is watching – not on purpose, just channel surfed and landed there – Alien vs. Predator II: Requiem on cable.

I’m carefully ignoring it, surfing the web and listening to Iron and Wine on headphones as I gave up on the franchise after Alien II.

Still, I catch glimpses of the movie out of the corner of my eye, and I do not get it. What’s the point? Gore, more gore, gruesome gore, slimy aliens doing icky things, and even more gore. And does not a single person have the sense to turn on a light switch? The whole film is shot so darkly that it’s almost painful to watch it.

I enjoy action movies, occasionally gory movies, even gruesome bits when it serves the story. I just watched Taken with the awesome Liam Neeson and enjoyed it very much. The bottom line is that there actually has to be a plot.

I must be getting old. Darned kids! Get off my lawn.

Posted on Sunday, February 15th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: entertainment, movies | 13 Comments »

Five Good Remakes

I realize remakes are often controversial and even unnecessary, but sometimes the new version is equal to or even better than the old. These choices are subjective, but I suggest these five remade movies are excellent the second time around:

Oceans Eleven
This one’s a tough call. After all, who can match the Rat Pack? But George Clooney, Brad Pitt, a superb script and excellent pacing make the remake the superior movie in my book.

Thomas Crown Affair
I had high hopes for the original movie, which I actually watched after the remake. Unfortunately, Faye Dunaway can’t hold a candle to Rene Russo, although I do prefer the original, sad ending as being more true to the characters.

Italian Job
The original movie is fun and fast paced, and they both get points for excellent use of MINIs. The ending on the original is frustrating.

Casino Royale
I realize the original version of Casino Royale was shot as a spoof, so the comparison really isn’t valid. Still, the current version of Casino Royale is a worthy addition to the Bond oeuvre – Daniel Craig is an awesome Bond.

War of the Worlds
Please note that I am *not* a Tom Cruise fan. I think he’s gotten where he is today by playing one role really well – that of Tom Cruise. Still, I think the remade War of the Worlds is a nicely done movie – the CGI and special effects available in the 21st century serve this kind of story very well, and Spielberg still manages to maintain the story’s pacing.

I’m also hopeful about the pending Logan’s Run remake – it was the first SF movie I ever watched, it has a good story line, and it’s possible a less-cheesetastic treatment might make for a fairly decent movie.

There are lots of bad remakes out there we can all snicker about – I don’t want to hear about those. Are there any other decent remakes that you would point to and say, “Hollywood got that one right!”?

Posted on Saturday, January 3rd, 2009 by Jeri
Under: entertainment, movies | 9 Comments »

Goodbye, Butch

Paul Newman died Friday of cancer at age 83. More than just one of my favorite actors, he was a person I admired greatly for his charity work and his attitude on celebrity.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of my favorite movies, one of those I’ll stop to watch if I’m flipping channels and happen to come across it. I never get tired of it, and of course Newman’s performance is a big reason why. His stream of consciousness chatter – played off of Robert Redford’s Sundance’s squinty-eyed frustration (mostly at the messes the characters got into due to Newman’s Butch’s hyperactive scheming) – is classic stuff. I’d also point to The Verdict and The Color of Money as favorites of mine from Newman’s career.

The amazing success of the “Newman’s Own” products and the charities they supported were an even better reason to admire the man. I never saw Newman tooting his own horn over the success of that work of service to his fellow man. It was always handled as matter of fact and coolly as the man seemed to be himself.

Newman was a well known hater of celebrity and the hoopla of Hollywood. In spite of that, I can’t think of a greater giant of a movie star than Newman. Anything he did as an actor felt special. Ten Academy Award nominations, with a win and two honorary Oscars give testament to the respect of industry. The legacy of his charity work should draw the admiration of all.

Posted on Saturday, September 27th, 2008 by Bryan
Under: entertainment, inspiration, movies | 2 Comments »

No Remake Zone

It has come to my attention, via Kimby, that MTV is attempting a remake of the venerable Rocky Horror Picture Show. The petition will probably accomplish nothing – still, the issue of gratuitious remakes is worth talking about.

Rocky Horror is no cinematic masterpiece – but it is a cult institution. You just don’t mess with that!

It’s astounding — time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely — not for very much longer
I’ve got to keep control.

Let’s do the Time Warp again
Let’s do the Time Warp again

Maybe if you have some serious credibility in that genre you might be able to mess with it. Maybe. And 66% of your potential audience will still hate you. It might be fun to see what the Dr. Horrible crew could do with Rocky Horror.

MTV, the production house that brought you Jackass, would defenestrate it.

What are some movies – or books, comics or tv shows – that you think merit the status of institution, and should be left well enough alone by the Hollywood remake engine?

Posted on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 by Jeri
Under: books, entertainment, movies | 12 Comments »

Batman Begins, But Never Ends

Jeri, the kids and I worked hard yesterday on the deck. I was so ridiculously sore today I wanted to just relax so we went to the movies, and saw The Dark Knight, the new Batman movie. I felt the abiding need, despite my usual lack of posting here, to relate why the movie ultimately really pissed me off. That doesn’t, by the way, mean I wouldn’t recommend it, or that there wasn’t a lot of it I enjoyed. Now that I have you thoroughly confused, dear reader, let me explain.

I love movies. But I have found of late there is a problem in the world of moviemaking. And it has to do with editing, and I’m not talking about technique. I’m talking about cutting a movie to tell a story of reasonable length, an art that I fear is lost on the movie world at times.

The Dark Knight has some good performances, and all the buzz about the late Heath Ledger’s Joker is well deserved, he’s that good. Nope, I have no problem with the acting; all the major roles are well acted by truly great actors. There are good, quotable lines, something I like a lot. Effects, good. Cinematography, ditto.

The movie is 150 minutes long, or thereabouts. It should have been about 45 minutes shorter. Instead of being satisfied with a few main characters it piles more and more on, each demanding their fair share of screen time. In so doing, however, it burns them off in an unsatisfactory way. I don’t want to post a spoiler here, but one character in particular, who could have appeared in another Batman movie later as a major character, is instead wasted by the outcome of the film.

To some extent I’m not sure if it’s the writing or the editing, but as I think about it, I think it’s the writing where the failure is. After all, movies cost way too much to overshoot tons of film on scenes that might well not be used.

I also hate false endings. You know, where you think the movie’s point has been made but like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, it keeps popping back to life. The Dark Knight has one and it’s annoying.

You know, I think in a way this is why I usually really like almost all Pixar animated movies. They have the story, they tell it, and do it in about 90 minutes or so. I’ve seen long movies that I’ve liked, usually historical movies like Gandhi or The Last Emperor. But 150 minutes of superhero make bad guy go boom? C’mon guys, tighten it up.

Posted on Sunday, July 20th, 2008 by Bryan
Under: movies | 6 Comments »