60/60 Review #21: Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

There are only a few things I knew going into this movie. I knew it was Stanley Kubrick. I knew it was supposed to be a dark comedy. I knew it was one of those "love it or hate it" kind of films that a lot of people just don't seem to "get." And even going in with all of this knowledge, I don't think it changed anything about my reaction to the film.

The film is a dark satire about a crazy general, Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden), who orders an attack on Russia and stars a process that brings along a possible nuclear holocaust. So a bunch of politicians enter the War Room and try to stop it from happening. Other actors include Peter Sellers (as three different characters, including the titular one), George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, and more.

Despite knowing this was meant to be a dark comedy, I didn't find it all that humorous. There were some parts that did make me chuckle or that I could see as funny. These were most of the War Room sequences (maybe only 1 or 2 outside of those). My favorite bits were the phone calls with Dmitri.

Otherwise, the movie was just... dull. Strangely, I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, either. To me, it just kind of... exists. The War Room stuff was a lot of fun, but that was probably only half the run-time. And it wasn't until the movie had been going for about 30-35 minutes when things even get entertaining.

The acting, writing, and directing is all relatively solid. There's no problem there. Actually, I'm not sure there's a problem with the movie in general. It just wasn't totally my bag--at least all of it. But I guess that's the issue most people have with the movie. It's very much an acquired taste, as they say, and I can tell why. I know this wasn't much of a review, but I don't have much to say about it. So I'll just stop now before I embarrass myself.

Stop Saying OK! OK.

(P.S. That closes us out for War! Month. This was a long one for me, folks. I thought Western Month was long, but this one felt never-ending. Perhaps it was the fact that the movies are mostly serious, dark, and dreary or perhaps that they're all insanely long--maybe both. It's quite possibly because I only really enjoyed 2 films this month. So, needless to say, I'm pretty happy to be moving on to what I've been assured will be a more uplifting month. Yes, that's right... Nazis.)


Musical Monday: Grease - Summer Nights (#40).

[Every Monday, I'm going to be counting down my 52 favorite musical numbers from musical movies and TV shows. I might not like the full movie/show, but the number makes the list for various reasons: 1) I have to like the song, 2) the visual of how the number is performed is most likely unique or fun, 3) both song and visual mixes well to create an exciting or powerful number. So let's get to the next on the list.]

Sorry this is running late. This is going back to a classic here. A catchy number, despite the really strange dancing at times. But I love how it's telling the same story but from different perspectives (namely a female and male perspective and what each wants to hear). Though it does make you wonder... if they're singing their own song to their friends that doesn't--in reality--correlate with the other person's lyrics, what are they rhyming with during the "missing verses" when it flips to the other group? Makes you think! Anyway, here is "Summer Nights" from Grease.



It's a movie about a girl with an evil step father who ends up in a scary new place and uses her imagination as an escape mechanism, directed by a man known for amazing visuals, and with a rather bittersweet ending. No, I'm not talking about Pan's Labyrinth, but I'm pretty dang surprised I haven't seen that comparison anywhere (at least on a surface level). No, it isn't as deep as the aforementioned film, but the idea is similar. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is sent to an insane asylum after her mother dies and her step-father, in a drunken rage after finding out his step-daughters get everything she had, kills Baby Doll's little sister. In order to silence her, her step-father pays an orderly, Blue (Oscar Isaac), to forge a signature for a lobotomy that will take place in about a week's time. While inside, Baby Doll meets some other girls, namely Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Amber (Jamie Chung), and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens). They're being trained as dancers by Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), and they soon discover Baby Doll's amazing dancing abilities that are rather hypnotizing. But when she dances, she transports herself to another world, a fantasy world, where she often meets with a Wise Man (Scott Glenn) who helps her--and eventually the other girls--figure out how to escape from their prison.

You might be thinking that the 'dancer' bit comes out of nowhere. Well, that's because the movie goes Inception on you. The fantasy sequences are just on top of the main fantasy sequence which is the bulk of the film. The asylum turns into a night club fairly quickly, and the girls aren't patients, but more like prostitutes--slaves to Blue and trained to dance for patron entertainment. But they only have 5 days before a "High Roller" (played by Jon Hamm) shows up for Baby Doll. You pretty much understand what the High Roller is symbolic of throughout the film.

But here comes an issue some people are having with the film. I've heard things like the film doesn't make sense and the symbolism stuff doesn't always match up. Who are the Nazi zombies? What are the androids on the train? Do you hear what you're asking? This is a movie with Nazi zombies, mech battle suits, androids, dragons, orcs, giant stone samurai with really big weapons, and countless other things, directed by visual mastermind Zack Snyder. And you're asking for SYMBOLISM? I mean, yeah, it's there. But the fantasy action sequences are just that--fantasy action sequences. Are you telling me your favorite part of The Matrix is the same old monomyth/Hero's Journey/religious allegory over the groundbreaking action sequences? Yeah, I didn't think so. Sure, it helps add deeper meaning and a couple extra layers to the action set pieces, but let me say it again: Nazi zombies, androids, dragons, samurai, Zack Snyder visuals. You cannot tell me you saw the trailer for this movie and expected to see the next Citizen Kane. You went because the action looked effing awesome and the visuals were stunning. And that's what you got: exactly what the trailer promised.

The action sequences were a heck of a lot of fun. It's pretty much a live action anime during these moments. People fly across rooms, bust floors when they land, glide high into the air, gain superhuman strength, and--at times--power up like a freakin' Dragonball Z character with energy flaring around them. The trailer promised me a bunch of awesome action, and that's what I got.

The acting isn't anything to hoot and holler about, though, but it wasn't God-awful. It was good enough to take us from one action piece to the next. The characters aren't overly complex, either. The one that comes closest is Abbie Cornish's Sweet Pea, but they don't really delve too far into her background to flesh her out. Still, that didn't really bother me, as I didn't come into this movie hoping for a character piece. The posters alone give me girls holding big swords and big guns in school girl outfits and skimpy war uniforms with fish net stockings.

The visuals are also fantastic, but that's come to be expected from a Zack Snyder film these days. Nothing ever looked like it didn't belong, and every little thing was gorgeous to look at. The soundtrack was also a lot of fun. I found myself anticipating what song I was going to hear next. They went pretty well hand-in-hand. It was a feast for the eyes and ears.

Overall, this movie was almost exactly what I expected it to be, and it's baffling to me that people were expecting something different. If you looked at the trailer and went "That action looks awesome. Those visuals are stunning. My eyes love you right now," then you'll probably like this movie. If you want something with a deeper message like Watchmen, you're not gonna get it. There are some voice-overs that try to add a little depth, but I don't think it necessarily made it any deeper or shallower. So if you're a fan of over-the-top action and want a movie that's almost pure eye candy--major style over substance--then this is for you.

A Keanu 'Whoa'



OK, so I've said in the past that I will see anything with Simon Pegg in it. To make this one even more must-see is that he was re-teaming with his Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz co-star, Nick Frost. Add in a supporting cast with the likes of Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, and Joe Lo Truglio, and it's even better. Heck, I even like the director, Greg Mottola, who made such films as Superbad and Adventureland. The first strike against me seeing it, however, was that it wasn't directed by Edgar Wright. The second strike was Seth Rogen doing the voice of the titutlar character--I have no problem with Mr. Rogen, but his voice is too distinctive, which I figured would make for too much of a distraction from the character. The third strike was the trailer and the fact that it was painfully unfunny. Needless to say, I was in a bind. I desperately wanted to see it for Pegg and Frost, but at the same time... I couldn't have been less excited about it. Then reviews started coming in and saying that it wasn't great, though not bad, either.

Enter Jess, who tells me how funny it is and assures me I'll enjoy it. She's rarely steered me wrong. Then Jason came in and also told me he enjoyed it, and we tend to have similar tastes, as well. Mix those impressions in with the fact I'm gonna be talking about it on a future LAMBcast, and I decided to give in and go see it. For those of you not in the know, the movie focuses on two buddies, Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), who are on holiday to go to Comic-Con. Afterwards, they go on a road trip to visit alien-related tourist spots. Along the way, however, the stumble upon Paul (Seth Rogen), an alien who needs their help. The government is after him, and he needs to get off the planet. Chasing behind are Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman) and agents Haggard (Bill Hader) and O'Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio), though the latter two don't really know what the mission is. Meanwhile, Graeme, Clive, and Paul come across a bible thumper named Ruth (Kristin Wiig) and end up having to kidnap her after she sees Paul. The rest is a race to the finish as the gang tries to stay one step ahead of the ones who want Paul in their custody. There's also a supporting cast including Jane Lynch, John Carroll Lynch, Jeffrey Tambor, David Koechner, and a couple cameos I don't wanna spoil.

So what did I think? Jess and Jason didn't steer me wrong. I thought the movie was pretty funny, and the trailer really doesn't do the movie justice in my opinion. I wasn't rolling around laughing, but I gave a good chuckle here and there, and I was smiling throughout. The story itself is pretty straight-forward, but there are some interesting twists in the story. We find out little by little as the movie goes on about Paul's history, and there are some interesting and funny moments.

The big thing with this movie, though, is the actors. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost remain to be top notch. Both are lovable nerds who are buddy-buddy as usual. Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio are goofy government agents, with Lo Truglio being a nerd himself. Then there's the cool yet menacing Jason Bateman who gives us an interesting villain (though there is someone higher up than him). There's also a funny running joke about a sci-fi writer played by Jeffrey Tambor--and although his role is brief, he plays the annoyed veteran writer well. But then we get down to one of my biggest issues with the film going into it--Seth Rogen. Like I said, I don't have a problem with Rogen like a lot of people do, but I always felt he was the wrong choice to voice Paul due to the recognizable nature of his voice. After seeing the film, I still kinda think that. Looking past that, he does do very well with the part and making him likable. It's just that, for the majority of the film, all I could think was "this is Seth Rogen, not an alien."

And with another actor doing the voice, I might have seen Paul as truly an alien being. The CGI for the movie was very well done. For some reason, trailers always seem to make CGI worse than it ends up in the actual movie. But within the full context of the film, the CGI of Paul (and really any other time it's used) was very well done. He fit right in.

One of the funnest parts of the movie was all the references to other sci-fi and alien films. There are a ton in there, including but definitely not limited to E.T., Close Encounters, Star Wars, and Star Trek. In this instance, you can totally tell the movie was written by Pegg and Frost, as there is still that referential humor from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, just without the kinetic directorial style of Edgar Wright. It also doesn't have the self-referential humor of the aforementioned films, where things are revisited in a different context at least 2 or 3 times throughout the film. I'm assuming that comes from Edgar Wright's side of the scriptwriting.

As it is, though, the movie is fun and it exceeded my expectations. Granted, I went in with them rather low (despite Jess and Jason's assurances). But still, I would definitely see it again, and I'll probably buy it when it comes out on DVD. So maybe next time, I won't doubt Simon Pegg/Nick Frost or Greg Mottola. I say that if you're a sci-fi film fan, you'll probably really enjoy the film because you'll pick up on all the references. If you're going for Pegg and Frost, you won't be getting another Edgar Wright film, but you also won't be too disappointed as the chemistry is still there. It's not the best comedy ever, but it's still a fun time.

I Am McLovin!


60/60 Review #20: Platoon.

Of course, I know all about Oliver Stone and his type of film-making, and I've heard of the majority of his films. However, surprisingly, this is the first full one of his films I've seen. I know, right? And with all the Charlie Sheen craziness going on right now, this was pretty good timing. There's really no story to this film. It's mainly a platoon's journey through the Vietnam War. There's the new guy who actually enlisted, Chris (Charlie Sheen), who narrates the film. Then there are the two alpha males that split the platoon into two ways of thought. There's the weed-smoking nice guy, Elias (Willem Dafoe), and the hot-headed, war-torn crazy guy, Barnes (Tom Berenger). Also part of the platoon are King (Keith David), Big Harold (Forest Whitaker), Bunny (Kevin Dillon), O'Neill (John C. McGinley), Junior (Reggie Johnson), Wolfe (Mark Moses), Lerner (Johnny Depp), Warren (Tony Todd), among others.

This movie really ticked me off--probably in the ways Stone meant. I know Vietnam was an 'everybody loses' war that drove a lot of people crazy and do inhuman things. In that trail of thought, this movie captured the war very well. When the movie got to the village scene, I was so upset with what I was watching. It was just so brutal and insane.

I'm starting to wonder if war movies get some of the best ensemble casts, because practically every one I've watched so far has such a great group of actors. My favorite of this bunch were definitely Willem Dafoe and John C. McGinley. Dafoe was just awesome (and he gives the famous on-the-knees-arms-up shot from the film (which is on the poster/cover, as well). I always enjoy seeing McGinley in things outside of Scrubs, too. And I felt really bad for his character. He probably had one of the more tragic characters, but not for the reason you might think (if you haven't seen the film). Then, of course, you have crazy Mr. Berenger with his scarred-up face... a pretty terrifying villain. And then, yes, Charlie Sheen. Even he goes a little crazy during the village sequence, which feels almost out of character for the rest of the film--before and after (even immediately after). A lapse in sanity, perhaps?

I'm really not sure what else to say about it. The cinematography was good and the action was brutal. The whole film was a bit too dark and heavy for my tastes, and I almost immediately put in a goofy musical as soon as it ended just to balance things out. Regardless, it was still a very well-made movie with intense and well-acted characters. Otherwise, I don't think I have anything else to add. I'm not exactly sure how to rate it, because this is one of those quality vs. taste preference things. I think quality nudged it up one from what I would have otherwise given it... so consider it a low one of these:

A Keanu 'Whoa'


60/60 Extra: Stripes.

Note: I know, I know, two "Extras" in a row that are in Short Review format... but again, I just have little to say.


After a man loses his job, girlfriend, and apartment, a sarcastic guy and his stoner friend join the army and try to make it through boot camp and their first real mission.

Starring: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates, John Candy, and Judge Reinhold.

My Reaction: Bill Murray is funny as always. I really liked the majority of the film up through the boot camp stuff. But after they leave boot camp, my interest started to wane a bit... strangely my reaction to Full Metal Jacket, too. It's still a really entertaining and funny movie, though. There are a lot of scenes to enjoy, such as the singing while marching, the mud wrestling scene, and more. Though maybe it's because I'm used to R. Lee Ermey, but Warren Oates felt like a subpar version. And his random mouth-twitching kinda bugged me for some reason. Anyway, that's really all I have to say on the film... which is why I went with this format.

I Am McLovin!


Musical Monday: Reefer Madness - Murder (#41).

[Every Monday, I'm going to be counting down my 52 favorite musical numbers from musical movies and TV shows. I might not like the full movie/show, but the number makes the list for various reasons: 1) I have to like the song, 2) the visual of how the number is performed is most likely unique or fun, 3) both song and visual mixes well to create an exciting or powerful number. So let's get to the next on the list.]

I'm apparently one of the few people who have seen this movie, but it's a pretty funny flick. Based on a film from the 30s about the negative effects of weed (like raucous piano playing and wild parties) called Tell Your Children which was then turned into an Off-Broadway Musical, this film obviously takes itself from the stage play version. The movie is a total hoot with some really catchy musical numbers. This one isn't my favorite (that'll come later), but it's up there--not because of catchy-ness, in this case (there's a lot of bouncing back and forth between talking and singing), but because of the wackiness. Warning: Spoilers in the video, since this song takes place near the end of the film. So here, ladies and gents, is "Murder" from Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical.


Podcast: Reel Insight #39 - Alan Rickman.

Already listened to the last episode of the Demented Podcast, but you're just itching to hear me on something else? Well, I was the last winner of the Quotable Quotes for the Reel Insight podcast, which means I got to join the RI ladies for the third time. As per usual, I got to pick an actor and, this time, went with Mr. Alan Rickman.

The audio is kinda funky throughout because internet connections and Skype weren't all that nice to us while recording, but it's nothing too bad. Jess and I in particular just sound like we're doing a good Stephen Hawking impression every now and then. Anyway, here you go and enjoy (if the player isn't showing up for you, just follow this link instead):


The Demented Podcast #11 - Random Bargain Doorknob Bin Podcast Review.

Returning to our regularly scheduled programming, we come back into what I suppose could be called Season 2. And for this episode, I'm joined by Nolahn of Bargain Bin Review and the Lair of the Unwanted podcast, which he co-hosts with Jason Soto. We do some feedback before we take on a rather... interesting... The Challenge before getting into our main topic.

And what is that main topic? What Makes Bad Movies Good. A fascinating discussion, really. We figured most people might watch a so-bad-its-good movie, but not really think about what makes it good compared to movies that are just bad. (And, yes, The Room is brought up.)

Finally, we end climbing The Tower. It's a new season, so that means a new leaderboard. And so far, Nolahn has started us off setting records. Listen to find out!

Note: We had a ton of connection problems while recording. Between having to re-call a few times and have 3 separate recording files, there was a lot of editing done on this episode. You might still be able to hear some distortion every now and then when Nolahn speaks, but that's about it. There are also a few deleted conversations that I thought about leaving in (like Nolahn talking to the listeners while I hunted down information), but I cut them for time purposes... sorry, Nolahn! Anyway...

Current Battle Royale Champion
Rachel Thuro - 171 Points

You can listen to this episode on the player below or by subscribing through iTunes.

That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.


60/60 Review #19: Saving Private Ryan.

You might not know this, but this film was one of the primary inspirations for doing the 60/60 List in the first place. After listening to an episode of Reel Insight, there was a discussion about Saving Private Ryan. Of course, I soon admitted that I hadn't seen it, which opened a personal floodgate of other must-see films I hadn't seen. It's too bad this film didn't end up #20 on the list, as that would have been cool. Alas, we'll stick with #19.

For those who are like myself and hadn't yet seen the film, it follows Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) during World War II. After a horrible round of battles, 3 of the 4 Ryan brothers are killed in action. In order to stop their mother from the ultimate devastation of losing all of her children at the same time, orders come down from the government to send in a team to extract Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) from the war and send him home to what's left of his family. Joining Miller's team are Sgt. Mike Horvath (Tom Sizemore), Private Reiben (Edward Burns), sniper Private Jackson (Barry Pepper), Private Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Private Caparzo (Vin Diesel), Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), and translator Cpl. Upham (Jeremy Davies). Also showing up for bit cameos are Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti, Dennis Farina, Leland Orser, and Nathan Fillion (who wasn't really a name at the time, but was a fun spot now).

Like Black Hawk Down (BHD), this was one of those "who isn't in this movie?" movies. The acting chops were top notch, though I personally enjoyed Barry Pepper and Jeremy Davies the most. It took me a while to realize it was Jeremy Davies--I recognized the actor, but I had to look it up before realizing it was Faraday from LOST. Anyway, Pepper was pretty awesome as the sniper, but it was Davies that had the most character development.

And that's what I was totally missing from BHD. This film is superior in every way. The cinematography is really good and very gritty. And while the visuals and gore in the aforementioned film were, well... there... this one took it to an upsetting level. I'm a fan of horror movies, and gore doesn't bother me all that much. But the realism in this film very nearly made me sick to my stomach. When a certain character dies from a shot to the torso, and all you're seeing is blood continually pouring from the open wound as he begs for morphine and cries for his mother... yeah, it's intense. And the violence starts off almost immediately. There's a brief intro that leads into a flashback, but after they hit that beach, the body count starts to skyrocket. I think my jaw was open for almost the entirety of that first 30 minutes. And it didn't shy back from there.

The movie is slightly shy of 3 hours, but it didn't feel it. I was captivated the entire time, despite feeling uncomfortable through the majority of that time span. It was able to keep things fresh by continually moving on to different side-missions while they traveled the countryside looking for Private Ryan. From liberating a town and taking down a sniper to removing a hidden threat from a radar station to setting up a final line of defense at a bridge (and more), you're continually kept on your toes on what's going to happen next. And you know that nobody is safe and any of them can die at any time, which only helps build the tension and unease.

What I really enjoyed was the fact that there was character development. It wasn't just a bunch of empty shells going on a rescue mission like in BHD. These were real people. You came to like or care about them. And even if you didn't know them that well, they had personalities that you could latch on to. As I said before Davies goes through the most change, starting as a guy who hadn't handled a gun since basic training to, well... I don't want to spoil it. He's no Rambo or anything, but when he realizes an earlier mistake has come back to haunt him (a fact I didn't catch at first), he has to face his conscience. It's a painful moment for him.

This film has been touted as one of the most realistic war films ever made, and I can definitely see why. By the end of the film, I was emotionally drained. And I'll be honest, I don't cry very often in movies--and I still didn't here--but the notion crossed my mind on multiple occasions. The film had some of the best and brutal war scenes I've seen, and that mixed with really good characters, a good story, and... good-to-great everything, that makes this, honestly, one of if not the best war film I've seen. Of course, I still have a handful of films left for the rest of this month, but I'm not sure if any of the ones I have lined up will top what this one accomplished.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


60/60 Extra: Black Hawk Down.

Note: I'm gonna do this in a Short Review format, because I honestly don't have all that much to say about it.


Premise: A true story of when American soldiers in Mogadishu attempt to capture some somali renegade officials and end up getting two of their Black Hawk helicopters shot down and have to brave out the dangerous streets for hours until rescue can come for them.

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner, Ewen Bremner, Kim Coates, Ioan Gruffudd, Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Piven, Tom Hardy, George Harris, Ty Burrell, Zeljko Ivanek, Hugh Dancy, and Orlando Bloom.

My Reaction: Seriously, who isn't in this movie? Anyway, the cinematography bugged me at times, particularly near the beginning. The movie is basically 20 minutes of setup and 2 hours of literally non-stop action. It's like every man, woman, and child in that town owns an assault rifle and an RPG/rocket launcher. I know this really happened, but it almost felt ridiculous after a while. Unfortunately, even with such a strong cast, the movie doesn't utilize them. You don't get to know really any of them, which means character development is little to none. I couldn't even tell you their names outside of Orlando Bloom's Blackburn, and even then I would have told you "blackbird." I have to be honest, though... I was pretty bored after a while and was just waiting for it to end. It does have some entertainment value, but that only goes so far when you're doing the exact same, non-stop thing for 2 straight hours.

Stop Saying OK! OK.


Musical Monday: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Once More With Feeling) - Walk Through The Fire (#42).

[Every Monday, I'm going to be counting down my 52 favorite musical numbers from musical movies and TV shows. I might not like the full movie/show, but the number makes the list for various reasons: 1) I have to like the song, 2) the visual of how the number is performed is most likely unique or fun, 3) both song and visual mixes well to create an exciting or powerful number. So let's get to the next on the list.]

This is the first musical number from a TV show that has appeared on the list thus far. I only have a few, but musical episodes are always some of my favorites, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is no exception (Fun Fact: It was this episode that Darren Lynn Bousman used to talk the studio execs into letting him cast Anthony Stewart Head as the lead in Repo! The Genetic Opera). Anyway, I chose Walk Through The Fire in particular because it's a decent mix of drama and comedy--and because Spike has some really good lines in it. Anyway, that's about all I have to say on it.



So, I'm a pretty big fan of movies based on Philip K. Dick stories. I almost always really like them. The only one in recent memory that I didn't really enjoy was A Scanner Darkly. So when I heard that this was a PKD story, my interest shot up immensely. Strangely, however... it doesn't feel like a PKD story. The Adjustment Bureau follows the story of David Norris (Matt Damon) a young man running for New York State Senator. On the night of a big loss, he meets a young woman named Elise (Emily Blunt) who inspires him to make a great speech. Just when he thinks he'll never see her again, he bumps into her on a bus. However, this was never meant to happen. A man named Harry (Anthony Mackie) slips up on his job, which causes a ripple effect that opens wide a curtain that David was never meant to even know existed. As he finds out, there is very little free will, and fate is controlled in a master plan by this adjustment bureau. Unfortunately for him, their plan for him involves him to never see Elise again; unfortunately for them, it won't be that easy to keep them apart.

Like I said, it doesn't feel like a PKD story at all. His stories are generally on the more tech side of things, only every now and then giving people special abilities (Next, for instance). This film deals heavily on themes of free will, fate, soul mates, and a higher power. While it's never said straight up, the undertone drips with fact that these guys are basically like angels and they're working for God (though they do drop "angels" once. The closest they get to saying "God" is something like "you have many names for him"). Though I have no problem with this. I like stories with religious undertones. It just didn't have the typical PKD feel to it.

The supernatural/fantasy element is a lot of fun. They can travel through doors to different locales (a la Monsters Inc.). They can also freeze time and use telekinesis, though they have to have special permission for the former and only do the latter if necessary. But while these bits were fun, they weren't the heart of the movie.

The heart of the film is actually a romance. The relationship between Damon and Blunt is very good, and they have good chemistry. It can be heartbreaking at times--you want them to be together, but everything is being thrown in the way to stop it from happening. And then, in the latter half of the film, you find out why certain things are happening and the decisions that need to be made are really tough. You can feel for Damon and his internal struggle.

The story was very Odyssean (is that a word?) in nature. Odysseus upset the wrong higher powers, so they won't let him go home to be with his love. And no matter how hard Odysseus tries, they throw more and more stuff in his path. But he never gives up, knowing one day he will defeat the will of the gods and be where he wants to be. It's the very same here--just without the sea monsters and whatnot.

I really don't need to get into the acting. Damon and Blunt are excellent, and the supporting cast with Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, John Slattery, and Terrance Stamp doing a fantastic job.

So yeah, there's really nothing to add. I did enjoy the film--not as much as I hoped, but I did. I think my biggest issue with it was the heavy tone. For a movie about a couple doing anything to be together mixed in with some fun supernatural stuff, it felt too heavy and dramatic most of the time. I don't know how to say it exactly. Either something was missing or something just needed to be tweaked a bit. But overall, it was a good time--just don't go in expecting the usual PKD romp.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Short Review: The Next Three Days.

Premise: After his wife is accused of murder with no chance of release, a man plans an elaborate escape to get her out and take her and their son to a foreign country to live outside the grip of the law.

Starring: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Ty Simpkins, Olivia Wilde, Jason Beghe, Aisha Hinds, Liam Neeson, Jonathan Tucker, RZA, Kevin Corrigan, and Daniel Stern.

My Reaction: I really enjoyed the first hour of set-up and planning. While some might see it as a bit too slow, I felt the slow burn would lead up nicely to the second hour of action. Unfortunately, the action is only in the last 20 minutes or so. The 40 minutes in between the first hour and the last 20 minutes are where most of my major problems with this movie lie. First, it loses some steam. Second, it starts to feel redundant. And third, it just drives home my biggest issue with the movie as a whole: she (the wife) is so not worth it. She's a total witch, and I honestly couldn't see why he would go through so much trouble for her--especially the scene where the movie gets particularly dark and he decides to follow a drug dealer (the Jonathan Tucker/Kevin Corrigan scene). However, the break-out and subsequent on-the-run sequence is a lot of fun, making you wonder if they'll get away with it. Otherwise, not a big Russell Crowe fan, but I think he did fine with it. The movie is mostly entertaining for being a pseudo-heist film... it's just the lengths he goes to in comparison to what he's trying to obtain doesn't seem worth it overall. And most importantly, the title makes little sense, as it alludes to (mostly thanks to the trailer) the three days after the "heist," while the movie is about everything leading up to and then the actual attempt. The results are only visited for about 2 minutes. But maybe that's just me reading into it wrong.

I Am McLovin!


60/60 Review #18: Braveheart.

I don't think I've ever had less to say about one of the 60/60 movies so far on this list. I mean, it was bound to happen, right? There was inevitably going to be at least one movie on the list that I just had little to say about--good, bad, or otherwise. But let's start with the story. It's about William Wallace (Mel Gibson), a young boy who grows into a highly intelligent and skilled young man. He falls in love with Murron (Catherine McCormack), but he has to marry her in secret. Why? Because the British have invaded and set up a law that allows any nobleman to sleep with a woman on her wedding night. Unfortunately, the Brits attack anyway and end up killing Murron. This sparks a fire under William, and he begins to fight back. It starts to then spiral into something much more, and he becomes a symbol of freedom for Scotland--a man of legend. And he--along with others, namely Hamish (Brendon Gleeson) and Robert the Bruce (Angus Macfadyen)--attempt to take down the invaders and win Scotland its freedom back.

Going into this, I knew the basics. I knew about the famous speech and face paint and line and all that. I knew how it ended. I knew he was Scottish. But that was about it. I think what surprised me the most about the movie was that the aforementioned famous scene was only a little over an hour into the film (maybe an hour and a half at most). I was expecting that to be part of the big climax battle or something.

And that was really the most surprising thing in the movie. That, to me, was my biggest issue with it. It just felt like I'd seen this a thousand times... which isn't because I knew all about it going in, because I already told you all I knew. It just felt like a tired story--guy rises from nothing, becomes a legend, leads people to victory, becomes a Jesus figure. Oh, I see... it's the monomyth! It's the structure of the Hero's Journey. Of course it's familiar. I don't, however, have issues with other stories that use it (Harry Potter, for instance). I guess it's just that this one didn't do anything different with it.

Of course, that doesn't mean I disliked it. I thought it was a very well-made film and it kept me entertained during it's 3-hour run time. I grabbed my laptop once or twice in the last hour, but that's about it. The characters were good; the acting was good; the directing was good. Everything about it was just fine and dandy and entertaining. It just wasn't one of those where, after the fact, I felt super excited and "Oh my God that was awesome!" about it.

If I had one problem besides that, it would be the part after William comes back from being away almost his entire life, and he's in love with this girl who gave him a flower way back when--and she's also in love with him. It just felt kinda forced and out of place. It's like they just needed to move the story forward, but they didn't have time to develop the relationship because the movie was already 3 hours long. But that's it.

Otherwise, the movie was fine, like I said. I'm starting to feel redundant. I said at the beginning I didn't have much to say... so I'll just summarize in a One Sentence Review: I've seen the story done thousands of times, but this one didn't do anything special with it, leaving it mostly uneventful; I did, however, enjoy the characters quite a bit and the film was overall well made.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. I feel weird giving it this low of a rating, because I do think the quality might deserve one higher for me. But as it is, I'm gonna just stick with this particular rating.)


Musical Monday: Enchanted - That's How You Know (#43).

[Every Monday, I'm going to be counting down my 52 favorite musical numbers from musical movies and TV shows. I might not like the full movie/show, but the number makes the list for various reasons: 1) I have to like the song, 2) the visual of how the number is performed is most likely unique or fun, 3) both song and visual mixes well to create an exciting or powerful number. So let's get to the next on the list.]

The basis behind a musical is that, sometimes, emotions get so high that the only way you can express your feelings is through song. The funny part about musicals is the fact that it seems everybody knows the lyrics and choreography, etc. While this next movie isn't exactly a pure musical, it has a handful of musical numbers. Of the primary two, this one was always my favorite, mostly thanks to the fact it pokes fun at the very notion of musicals, as well as keeping the idea of the movie and its charm intact. "That's How You Know" is a fun, charming little number in a fun, charming little movie.


The Demented Podcast #10 - Battle Royale (And/Or The Reel Entertainment Ramblings For Dark Cinema Reviews).

In this tenth episode, we take a break from the usual format and have us a long, star-studded game of The Demented Tower. On hand are the Top 5 scorers from the previous 9 episodes: Rachel, James, Hatter, Jess, and Tom. Together, we have a pretty fun time playing The Tower and taunting and teasing each other in the process.

But who comes out on top? Will it be the Top Leaderboard scorer, Rachel, who might only be there because she won the bonus question? Will it be fan favorite James, who sped through his original game to get one of the highest scores without the bonus question? Perhaps it'll be Hatter, the man nobody is counting on winning. It could also be Jess, the first person to ever play the game and who managed to stay in the Top 4 the entire time. But, quite possibly, it could be Tom, who showed skill that could rival James and is only at the disadvantageous bottom position because he missed his bonus question.

Listen and find out!

Also, keep an ear out for some fun sound bytes sprinkled throughout not only from Mortal Kombat (as per usual), but also from a film we all love--The Room. And stick around after the closing music for a bonus clip cut out of the main part of the episode. (And special thanks to Rachel for the awesome alternate title for the episode.)

That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples. Also, for this particular episode, thanks to this awesome website for the soundclips from The Room.


60/60 Review #17: Gone With The Wind.

For those of you who have been following along with this project, you've probably picked up on one thing: long movies bug me when they're unnecessarily long. Also, some of you might be aware that I don't watch a lot of older movies because the strange melodramatic acting that took place in many classics bugged me, too. So, needless to say, Gone With The Wind was basically the one film on this list I was least looking forward to. From 1939, this classic film is not only full of that classic melodramatic acting, but full of it for damn close to 4 hours... making it the longest film on this list. And now that I've watched it, I'm left with one very important question: Why the Hell did I love it so much?

I didn't know much, honestly, going into the movie. I knew it was based around the Civil War, and I knew the famous line there at the end... but that's about it. So here's the basic plot from me to you. Scarlet O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) is a very selfish and spoiled young woman who lives on a plantation with her father (Thomas Mitchell), mother (Barbara O'Neil), sisters (Evelyn Keyes, Ann Rutherford), and slaves--particularly Mammy (Hattie McDaniel), Pork (Oscar Polk), and Prissy (Butterfly McQueen). She's basically the hottest thing ever and every guy wants to be with her. Of course, the only person she has an eye for is a man named Ashley (Leslie Howard), but he mainly has eyes for her friend or cousin or something (the relations are kinda intermixed and confusing), Melanie (Olivia de Havilland). Enter Rhett Butler (Clark Cable), a smooth man who gains an interest in Scarlet. Over the course of the film, we go through the Civil War, the destruction of southern qualities, multiple marriages, a few kids, and the fall and rise and fall again of Scarlet... because despite the fact that she continues to grow older, she just won't grow up.

I don't know if it was the fact that I watched this movie over about 4 different sittings, but the length didn't bother me at all. And I'm not sure how much that played a factor--and here's why. First, some quick background. I was originally going to get this through Netflix, but I feared I wouldn't get it on time. Instead, I rented it through iTunes. For those that don't know, once you start watching it, you only have 24 hours to finish it--and for a movie of this length, when you know you can't finish it in one sitting (due to time restraints), that causes some issues. So last night, I watched this movie for 2 hours straight and was actually annoyed that I needed to go to bed. I wanted to keep going! I wasn't bored with it or feeling any kind of drag. This morning, I took my laptop to work and, during my conference period, I watched while I prepped for class for about an hour or so. Then, during lunch, I watched another 20 minutes. Finally, after I got home today, I wrapped up the remaining 35 or so minutes. And every time I watched, I never wanted to stop.

But I don't think I thought I'd feel that way when the movie started. It gives you an introductory song at the start. For about 3 straight minutes, you just get nothing but a title card that says "Entre" or something like that and some music. Then, after that, there's another 2+ minutes of credits that feel like they'll never end. So for the first 5-6 minutes, I was pretty annoyed, building on my preconceived notions and/or expectations on the film. And then it started, and we're introduced to the spoiled and selfish Scarlet, and I immediately could not wait for something bad to happen to her. Then Rhett Butler appears. The second he looks up and smiles like a charmer in that classic stance at the staircase, the movie stuck a hook in me. But it was when he started talking to Scarlet like she was a childish dumbass that the movie really reeled me in. From that point on, I just sat, watching, waiting for them to get together so they could fall apart and Rhett could utter those iconic words.

But it wasn't just the characters that had me. This movie, for a film made in 1939, was gorgeous. I don't know if it was due to the fact I was watching a remastered version, but I was left in awe at times. The use of silhouettes in multiple scenes was great. The reds and oranges of multiple sunsets. The fire sequence when all the buildings are burning down. A scene near the end where Scarlet is running through the fog. There were just a number of fantastic shots.

However, we are then left with that melodramatic acting I mentioned earlier. Is it there? Hell yes. Did it bug me? Usually only in scenes with Ashley. If I were looking at it in terms of "everybody acts this way, but which one is the worst at it?," I'd definitely say Leslie Howard's Ashley. In other words, if I were looking at the film from the perspective of someone in that time period when it was first released, I would think he was the weakest actor. But I digress. For some reason, I was vastly entertained by the acting style. Maybe because it was borderline comical how over-the-top it was. That's what I'm thinking, anyway. There was just something about it that added to the quality of the film. I mean, the thing is totally a soap opera already. There are love triangles, multiple marriages, unwanted pregnancies, war, a lot of death, and so much more. I guess just putting that acting style on top of it made it just... fit and work.

There was a point, though, where I wondered how many characters were going to die before the movie ended. This didn't happen until the last 30 minutes or so, though. There was literally one point where I said aloud "REALLY?" At the beginning, I wanted bad things to happen to Scarlet and wanted her to learn a lesson. But by the end, I just pitied her. She only learns her lesson when it's too late. She's lost practically everything, and the only man who ever truly loved her couldn't (frankly) give a damn what she did with the rest of her life. He had finally had enough with her selfish and destructive ways.

Anyway, I don't think I have too much else to say. I loved the characters of Rhett Butler and Mammy, particularly Rhett--fantastic character. He reminded me, in a lot of ways, of Mr. Darcy (the only reason I even made it through reading Pride and Prejudice). He's a charmer who has his own faults, but is needed to both drive the primary female crazy and help her grow as a person. But luckily, Mr. Butler was in much more of the story than Mr. Darcy. I know I talked about the length already, but I do wish it were shorter... just not for the reason you think. This would actually be a movie I'd like to see again--it just takes up too much time in the day to sit down and watch!

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese