60/60 Review #47: The Godfather Part III.

I only knew 2 things about this movie going into it. 1) It's considered "the worst of the best" (i.e. the worst film in one of the best trilogies) and 2) Sophia Coppola was a big reason for that. Well... I wasn't lied to. Michael (Al Pacino) is trying to go legit, though they "pull [him] back in." Particularly, his nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia), a hot-head, is ruining things for him. So while he's dealing with business deals that involve the Vatican, Michael is also trying to deal with his nephew's affairs, including a more literal one with his daughter (and Vincent's own cousin), Mary (Sophia Coppola).

So... let's start with the incest. Tis a bit strange only 1 person in this movie finds the relationship at least moderately strange. But even then, I'm not entirely certain it's because the two are related and more that one is Michael's daughter and the other a wannabe-gangster. There's really only one line in the movie that makes note of the fact they're related. But anyway, that's not really the problem with Sophia Coppola--at least in my opinion.

So while on the subject of what is wrong, let's look at the acting. Yeah, she's pretty rough in it. There are a couple others who could use some help, too, but she's the worst. Pacino is fine, though--just as with the previous film--I couldn't care much about him or his character. I maybe liked his arch a little more in this film than the last one. He seemed more vulnerable and human this time out. Ironically, I liked Andy Garcia the most... and he was essentially playing a classic Pacino-type character.

You could probably easily guess my opinion of this film. The first is most enjoyable due to the character of Vito. The second's best bits are the Vito flashback sequences with De Niro. There is no Vito in this film, flashback or otherwise. If you need it a little more spelled out, I didn't particularly fall for this movie. The best parts are with Pacino acting more human and Andy Garcia acting more like Pacino. I couldn't care less about all the Vatican stuff or any of the politics of the businesses. Like the whole of the film, it just wasn't all that interesting. It was capable and overall well-made, but nothing "great."

Stop Saying OK! OK.

(P.S. That wraps up Crime Month Part 2! And now I'm done with all the crime stuff all together! I think the rest of the year is pretty much downhill from here. October is going to be insanely awesome. Why? Just look at what's coming up first to give you an idea. I'm moving from "The Worst of the Best" to "The Best of the Worst" next week with Troll 2. It's time for Horror Month. Oh my Goooooodddddddd!)


60/60 Extra: Casino.

Note: For only the second time in this project, I will have to use the short review format.


Premise: Two mobster friends have troubles while running a Casino in Vegas... or something.

Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Kevin Pollack, and Don Rickles.

My Reaction: I can't emphasize enough... how little I cared about this movie. It's not that I didn't care for it. It's that I just really didn't care. It starts out somewhat stylish enough with an interesting alternating voice-over and whatnot. But that just keeps going. After 40 minutes of voice-over explanations and no real story to speak of... it lost me. I'll be honest--I just started chatting it up with my podcast co-host, Steve for the next 2 and a half hours or however long I had left in this way-too-long movie. Yeah, I was still paying half attention to the movie, but it was so dull and uninteresting to me I just couldn't care less. It's not a poorly made film on a technical or acting level. Not at all. It was just yet another flick that wasn't for me. Sorry.

Feed Me, Seymour!

(P.S. Only for quality purposes and random bits of intrigue do I give it this high of a rating. It certainly doesn't deserve to be in the same lower ratings as some of the other films I've seen. Again, I don't think it was bad--I just didn't care.)

(P.P.S. Just to spur things on even more... I, funnily enough, wrote this review while I was only half-paying attention, as well. I was watching television of some sort.)


Musical Monday: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - Laundry Day (My Freeze Ray) (#14).

[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 can assure you this isn't the only song from this short film on this list. But I included this one because it's a good introduction to the character and his main struggle. He wants to be a villain and rule the world, but he's also a human with needs and is in love with a woman who doesn't notice him and who he has trouble even talking to. Not to mention it's a catchy song with some clevery writing and good cinematography to go along with it.


The Knobbies #2 - Winners!

It's time for the results! This is it, ladies and gentlemen. Only 7 people voted (which is actually less than the amount of people who actually participated in The Vlog this season... strangely enough). But those 7 have spoken... in most of the categories (some didn't participate in all of them). And here is what they had to say.

NOTE: Please read the following winners before watching the video! Some of them are referenced within the clip.

Favorite Impression From Nick

In a tie for Second Place... Bill Clinton and Sean Connery. However, we also have a tie for First! The Winners are...

Heath Ledger's Joker and Elmo!


Favorite Non-Story Time Episode (Excluding the Finale)

We all know Story Times were the favorites this year, but what was your absolute favorite Non-Story Time Episode... not including the finale? With only 6 voters, we have a 2-way tie for Second Place between Episodes 6 and 10. But The Winner Is...

Episode 2: Casting Call - Part 2 (Of course, the only Non-Story Time episode focused on the Story Time actors).


Favorite Story Time Episode

This was a tight race. There were 7 voters and a 2-way tie for Second Place between #2 (Kai) and #4 (Jess' Version). But The Winner... by 1 vote... is...

Story Time #5 - Cokie & Wrinkles!


Least Favorite Season 3 Episode

Only 6 voters this time around... ending in a 3-way tie for First Place. It seems there was equal dislike for Episode 1 (Casting Call Part 1), Episode 4 (A Minor Setback), and Episode 10 (A Change of Focus). The last is particularly interesting since it came in second place for favorite Non-Story Time episode (not to mention I like that one quite a bit myself...).


The Best Part of Story Times #3 and 4?

There's a 3-way tie for First...

Sebastian's Over-acting, Tom's scarves, and the "I, [age] [name]" lines.


The Best Part of Story Time #5?

While one person really adored the Meta-Quality of the episode... most gave their vote to James as The Narrator for an overwhelming win. Congrats, James!


The Best Part of The Finale?

This was one of the biggest surprises for me. In Second Place...

The Hotel Fight.

That's right. The big 3-way face-off was only second place! So what could have possibly taken the top spot?

Kai's Declaration of Vengeance. That's right, Kai! You're just awesome like that!


Least Favorite Season 3 Character (Human)

In Second Place... Jess and Barry (Tom)

And we have a tie for First! And The Winners(?) are...

Jason and Sebastian*!


Least Favorite Season 3 Character (Non-Human)

There's another 3-way tie for Second Place, belonging to Wrinkles, Sheep, and Nigel. However, we truly do have some winners here. Why? Because with an overwhelming 4 votes...

You just love them all!


Favorite Cliffhanger

Of course, the only cliffhangers voted on were in the finale.

In Third Place.. Who's At Nick's Door?
In Second Place... What Happened to Rachel and Jess?
And The Winner Is...

Kai's Ending!


What Do You Think Happened To Rachel And/Or Jess?

Most of you (3) believe they are both in critical condition. However, the other 3 of you believe that either Rachel died (Jess won), They both died, or Neither died and Rachel is in critical condition. We'll see if y'all are right or wrong next season!


Who Do You Think Was At Nick's Door At The End Of The Season Finale?

With a tie, most (2 each) believe it was either Kai or Other (out of curiosity, those who voted Other... any thoughts?). The only other votes went to Cokie and Rachel. We'll see!


Who Do You Want To See More Of In Season 4?

No real winners or losers in this category. But with a massive 6 (of a possible 6) votes, Kai received the most votes. Never fear, dear watchers! You'll get plenty of Kai next season... considering he's the main villain for the season.

Otherwise, Sebastian and Barry/Tom both received 4 votes. Jason, Rachel, Jess, Dylan, and Sheep received 3 votes. And poor Cokie only received 2 votes (you ain't getting rid of him that easily, though!)


What Was Your Favorite Moment This Season?

With only 2 people writing in, these were the responses I received:

-James as The Narrator
-Dylan singing!


What Was Your Least Favorite Moment This Season?

With only 3 people writing in, these were the responses I received:

-The Non-Story Time stuff (...thanks? :P )
-Wrinkles' accent (indeed)
-When it ended. :) (aww!)


And here are the rest of the categories! Enjoy!


The Demented Podcast #23 - What About The Penis?

For our newest episode, Steve and I are joined by Tom Clift of Movie Reviews by Tom Clift. Honestly, it seems that ever since that episode months back with Travis, we've hardly been able to go one episode without at least saying the word "penis." Well, now we at least have a reason. On board today we're talking about black comedies with Harold and Maude and 11:14.

(WARNING: Spoilers for 11:14.)

Of course, Tom then has to live up to his past title as one of the best players of The Tower... can he do it, or does his climb this time through turn into a black comedy of its own? Listen and find out!

Current Tower Leaderboard
1) Steve - 133 Points
2) Scott - 97 Points

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions
(BR2) Dylan Fields - 114 Points
(BR1) 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.



I was wondering why I wasn't getting any more votes for The Knobbies. So I took a gander. Apparently, I closed off voting last week! I clicked the wrong "end voting" day when I made it, so it hasn't been allowing people to vote! Well... I extended it a bit. You have through tomorrow to get your votes in, and the results will be up on Sunday! Sorry for that! (If you need to vote, click the Vlog Season 3 poster to the side of this blog.)


60/60 Review #46: The Godfather Part II.

I've only seen The Godfather once, and it was a few years ago, hence why only the second and third are on this list. Now, I'm not sure if the fact I haven't seen it in a while adds or detracts anything from the viewing of its sequel. I'm also not sure if it even matters. The majority of films on this 60/60 List are reviewable because while they might universally be considered classics or essentials, they aren't all necessarily universally loved and adored--if that makes sense. However, there are a handful of films on this list that surpass opinion. So far, such have been films like Citizen Kane or Casablanca. The Godfather Part II is not only considered one of the best sequels of all time, but one of the best films ever made (generally found in most film snobs Top 5s and/or 10s), and some argue it even better than the original. Even as of this review, it's in the #3 spot on the imdb Top 250 (whatever that means to you). Long story short, it's damn pointless to review this film.

But I'm gonna do it anyway. Just because.

This is both a prequel and a sequel, giving us two parallel stories juxtaposed against each other. First is the rise of Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) and how he inevitably became The Godfather. The second is of his son, Michael (Al Pacino), and his fall as he tries to take hold of and control the family business. The film co-also stars Diane Keaton, John Cazale, and Robert Duvall.

The best way to look at this is to look at the two segments separately and then together. I found the De Niro flashback segments to be the best parts of the film. It was the more interesting half by far, and I actually cared about his rise to power (despite knowing his fate from the first film). De Niro is pretty excellent in the role, especially imitating Marlon Brando's voice from the first film... while simultaneously speaking almost entirely in Italian. But I suppose he did win an Oscar for this role for a reason. Part of me wishes more of the film (or even the majority of it) would have followed this part of the story instead.

The Pacino segments were decent in their own right, and he definitely gained back some of the respect and credibility I'd lost from him over the last couple films (granted, this one came before it, but still). He did very good. That being said, this side of the film wasn't really that exciting to me. I didn't care about the characters or what was going on. The family drama was dull (except for the whole "who betrayed him?" part, but that was only near the beginning. Also, the "abortion" scene was very well done and intense and heartbreaking). And unfortunately, there was more of this part of the film than the other. It wasn't bad or poorly done or anything--it just wasn't for me.

As they're juxtaposed, it works pretty well. And the pacing is pretty good. For the most part, it's kept pretty even. You'll get a long segment of one, then a long segment of the other; a short for one, a short for the other. But there are times when it's not so even and you can tell (and, as you can probably figure, it's usually in favor of the Pacino segments).

I'm not going to review the quality of this film. As an understatement, it's good. The music, cinematography, acting, etc... as I've said before, it's considered one of the greatest films ever made and it won 6 Oscars. There's a reason for all of that. Films of poor quality don't typically reach those standards. So instead, I can only review it on entertainment level, and as we know... entertainment value changes on a person-to-person basis. So for me, I enjoyed half the movie quite a bit; the other half of the movie... was alright. And the length (oh yeah, you knew I wasn't gonna let that slide)? 3 and a half hours... I'd actually say it's not too far off the length it should be. I'd say it could probably lose 30-45 minutes, most of it in the first half. But that's a bit too long for an adequate evening enjoyment. All of that being said, my scoring based on my personal entertainment level would be...

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. Let the hatred begin.)


60/60 Extra: Carlito's Way.

This is the third Brian de Palma film in a row for this month, and it seems they've been decreasing in my favor as they went. I loved The Untouchables. Scarface was alright, though overrated. And then there's Carlito's Way. The film follows Carlito (Al Pacino), a man who has recently gotten out of jail thanks to some info that his lawyer, David (Sean Penn), found about his arrest. But instead of getting into trouble again, Carlito wants to keep clean and go straight. But with people like Benny (John Leguizamo), Pachanga (Luis Guzman), and Lalin (Viggo Mortensen), he finds it harder and harder to keep out of things.

I'm probably going to get some flak for this, but I really did not care for this film. Everything just felt... wrong. Let me try to explain what I mean. It almost seemed as if this film was a joke. The overall tone I took from the film was... goofy. The acting, the music, the costuming and characters... it just felt silly. Don't even get me started on that horrid voice-over narration.

The acting was painful, at least to me. Sean Penn was good, I suppose, but Pacino drove me crazy. His accent was bizarre, and the way he delivered his lines was just strange. I know I'm sounding repetitive, but that's the best way I can describe it. And then there was Viggo Mortensen. It wasn't until halfway through his scene that I even realized it was him... he was so unrecognizable. And it was that scene when I first realized how ridiculously goofy the movie was.

As for the music... I suppose the songs themselves were good, but their use was more cheesy than anything. The best example of this is a love scene between Pacino and the main female... set to Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." I'm not kidding. It was so painfully bad. I couldn't stop thinking about how much of a joke everything seemed.

If I were to give a compliment to this film, I'd say the last 15-20 minutes. The climax of the film is tense and nicely done. And the whole scene on the escalator (what is it with de Palma and escalators?) was fantastic. But otherwise, the movie was, again, goofy and came off like a joke. The voice-over was bad, something about Pacino was off, the use of music was cheesy... and, yes, the movie was too long for what it was. Needless to say, it wasn't one of my favorites. There were some things in it I liked, and I didn't hate it or anything. It was just... not for me.

Stop Saying OK! OK.


Musical Monday: Man Of La Manca - I, Don Quixote (#15).

[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 really like this movie. Then again, I really like the Don Quixote story (and one day, I'll get around to reading the whole thing). This is one of the first songs of the film (it's been a while, but I actually think this is the first song). This version of the story gives us Cervantes (the writer of Don Quixote) arrested by the Spanish Inquisition, and he puts on the play for (and using) the other prisoners in the dungeon with him. This is the introduction of the Don Quixote story and character and the style of the film--going back and forth between the prison and the fantasy view. And... well... it's just a fun, catchy song! I hate that I couldn't find the film version with the entire lead-in, because it's the build-up that makes it really great. But here's just the song from the film.


Knobbies - Don't Forget!

You still have a little less than a week to vote! Voting ends after Friday. There are exactly 25 things to vote on. The results will be up on Sunday, 9/18. If you need help remember what happened in each episode, you can look here.

WARNING, if you have not finished the season, there are spoilers. Otherwise, have fun voting! The poll is available here.


60/60 Review #45: Scarface (1983).

Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. So it turns out that I have three Brian De Palma films in a row. Yesterday was The Untouchables, now this, and next up is Carlito's Way. Of course, I know all about Scarface by now, including its famous line (and I promise... no "little friend" puns in this review). What I wasn't aware of was that it's a nearly 3-hour film. And we all know how I like my lengthy "classics."

For those not in-the-know, this is a remake of a 1930s film. It's about Tony Montana (Al Pacino), a Cuban refugee who rises in the ranks of the drug trade. Along the way, he falls for his boss' girl, Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer). We follow his rise and fall. The first hour is basically Tony Montana's beginnings... from his starts in a holding camp to starting in under the visage of a Miami drug lord. During this time there is also a very interesting standoff that involves a chainsaw, and he handles it... well. The second hour is his rise in the ranks. People start to respect him and appreciate him, though some (like his boss) believe he's too rash and needs to be dealt with. Of course, this leads Mr. Montana to further take charge and end up running the show. And the final hour is when things starts slipping away.

There's an irony surrounding the legacy of this film. The film essentially preaches the dangers of excess and ego. However, the ones who cherish and praise this film the most? Rappers who make millions on songs about excess and ego and then boast their accomplishments and unnecessary home editions and bountiful cars on MTV's Cribs. You also have teenagers of low socio-economic background who completely miss the point and see it as a tale of a man who starts out in a similar place as them who rises in power, gets and does whatever he wants (the freedom they wish to have at that age), and goes down in a blaze of glory--something they believe is possibly the highest of importance. So truly, those who have brought this film to the heights it has attained have utterly missed the point, which simultaneously nearly nullifies its status.

But that's not to say the film in and of itself isn't worthy of any kind of praise. Al Pacino gives an outstanding performance here. Not everybody is up to his level, however, but he holds the movie on his shoulders pretty damn well. And despite rarely smiling, he does bring a humor and humanity to the character. And I know it's more in the writing than his performance, but I was surprised by the angle that Tony Montana likes and wants children. Pacino plays him very human--though he still has some major faults, as well.

His performance, or even the story, doesn't make me feel like sitting through three hours, though. There are some scenes that could have been trimmed or even cut out all together. In the end, maybe an entire hour could have been cut out. At the end, I was left with the great performance and an iconic ending... but just a slightly above average film. I probably won't watch it again (except maybe the ending), but it is well made. If you haven't seen it, do so for Pacino's performance, but just know you're in it for a decent chunk of time.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. I was just waiting for an "Ello... my name is Inigo Montoya..." etc. Such a similar accent!)


60/60 Extra: The Untouchables.

I said last time I was surprised how I liked the first film of this month so much. Let's make that 2 for 2. This one takes place during the Prohibition during the reign of Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Treasury Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) is out to get him, so he puts together a team including beat cop Jim Malone (Sean Connery), Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith), and a young rookie named George Stone (Andy Garcia). Together they become known as the Untouchables, as they are somehow beyond the law, yet cannot be bribed or turned dirty. Patricia Clarkson also co-stars as Ness' wife.

I was into this movie from the opening credits. Why? The music. I think that had a big reason as to why I enjoyed this movie so much. The score of this film is absolutely fantastic. But that shouldn't be a big surprise. Doing a bit of looking about, the composer is the same man who composed, among many other things, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (then again, he also did Salo...). But anyway, I just loved the score from opening to closing.

The film is also very well paced. It's 2 hours long and, in something quite rare lately, I didn't feel that length. In fact, the only reason I would look at the clock was because I watched it at a late hour and needed to see how much time I had left before I had to get to bed. So, yes, it held me captivated, and I never felt it really dragged at all.

The acting was both a strength and a weakness. Sean Connery was fantastic, and he was my favorite character in the film. Dr Niro and Garcia ate up their scenes in their respective ways. Costner was fine, though his character was relatively dull... at least in comparison to the others. But I think he acted it to the best of his abilities.

There's also some good action, though at times it can get a bit cheesy. There's a particular scene with a baby carriage (with a long setup) and a long slow-motion shootout that comes to mind. It's a fun scene in a strange way, but it's also very silly at the same time. I don't hold it as a detriment to the film, though. It's charming in its own way.

And I think that's the best way I can describe the film. Sure, it's violent and gritty at times, but there's a certain charm to it. The music, the characters, the action, the dialogue... it just has a great charm to it all. Most movie reviewers will tell you that positive reviews are much more difficult to write than negative ones, so I'll just leave it at this. It's a fun film, and I recommend it to those who like the crime genre who have not yet seen it.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


Musical Monday: Nine - Be Italian (#16).

[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 did not like this overall movie. The songs aren't all that great. The visuals tend to be lacking (except for the women). The story is just not there. And if you took a shot every time somebody said "Guido," you'd be dead in 5-10 minutes. I think they say that damn name more often than The Room gives surprised salutations. But the best part of the movie? Fergie. That's right, with Oscar winners dripping from this movie's every facet, the best part of this movie is Fergie. And, of course, that's mainly because her song is the best, from the song itself to the visuals/cinematography and choreography. It's just fantastic. See for yourself...


The Knobbies #2 - Vote Now!

Well, with Season 3 of The Vlog over, it's time to get voting in the second rendition of The Knobbies! Unlike last time, this will only focus on The Vlog instead of both that and DemPod. There are exactly 25 things to vote on. I will be giving everyone roughly 2 weeks to vote on this. The results will be up on Sunday, 9/18. If you need help remember what happened in each episode, you can look here.

WARNING, if you have not finished the season, there are spoilers. Otherwise, have fun voting! The poll is available here.


The Demented Podcast #22 - Can Ya Dig It?

For our newest episode, Steve and I are joined by Scott Knopf of the Frankly, My Dear podcast. Throughout the podcast, he's asked if he's had an obsession with penises, and he gives words of wisdom about venturing through The Tower... among other things. But first, he wants to talk about 70s Urban Action and/or Blaxploitation films. Therefore, Steve recommends me what is actually Scott's favorite film, The Warriors. And then we have to bend some guidelines as I recommend Steve a film neither of us have seen with Shaft.

Scott's quite a warrior himself as he battles his way through The Tower. Listen and find out how he does and what kind of ending he gets! (And listen in after the closing music for a little extra something.)

Current Tower Leaderboard
1) Steve - 133 Points

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions
(BR2) Dylan Fields - 114 Points
(BR1) 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.



About a week ago now, I rented Prom from iTunes because I needed to review it for Man, I Love Films. It's a cheesy tween movie, but one of the better stories involved an actor named Nicholas Braun. So this week, I'm taking a gander on iTunes again and am surprised when I see Kevin Smith's Red State available for rent. And I'm even more surprised when I find the likable Nicholas Braun from super-innocent Prom in a film that couldn't be any more different... probably almost the exact opposite.

Red State follows three teenagers, Travis (Michael Angarano), Jarod (Kyle Gallner), and Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun), as they travel to a nearby small town to have sex with a woman (Melissa Leo) who propositioned them on the internet. But when they arrive at her trailer, she ends up drugging them. And when they wake up, they're being held hostage at an extreme fundamentalist church led by Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). Things become a struggle for survival, especially after the sheriff (Stephen Root) calls in for help and the government, led by Agent Keenan (John Goodman), steps in search the place... resulting in a deadly stand-off and shooting war between the two factions.

This film is nothing like any other Kevin Smith film you've ever seen, with the exception of one thing: There is some hella good dialogue in this movie (sans Star Wars reference). The writing is fantastic. Between the unsettling, almost neverending monologue from Michael Parks' character, or any of the very dark humor from Goodman, this is a very smart film.

What really helps back up the writing is the acting. The highlights, of course, are Goodman, Parks, and Leo. Goodman was my favorite part of the film, and he did have some of the best lines. If you're going to see this movie for only one thing, see it for John Goodman. The others are excellent in their own right, but they're much more serious and sinister. All great performances, but for different reasons.

The film has one detractor, and it's a big one. The film has trouble finding a clear narrative. The first half of the movie leads you to believe the focus is on the three teenagers and their situation. However, almost the second Goodman is introduced, the teens are all but forgotten for the next chunk of the film. In fact, most of what was set up in the first half except for the extremists themselves is all but forgotten. It's almost as if Kevin Smith decided to change what kind of movie he wanted to make halfway through, realized he needed to wrap up the original story near the end, and just... does so. But the whole process is a bit choppy and uneven.

It's not a perfect movie, but it has some really good ideas. The idea that any belief taken to the extreme can be more dangerous than anything is at the core of the film. Another idea this film explores is that it's not only Muslims are terrorists like most of America wants to believe. But it's any extremist who wants to hurt or attack a country or its citizens based on their beliefs--and, of course, this film puts Christianity at the forefront, which--despite being accurate--is gutsy in this day and age. And I strongly respect and appreciate it for that. Still, on an entertainment level, it's very strong in some areas, but the overall film could have used more tweaking.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. The performances and whatnot should probably knock it up on the rating scale a notch, but I tend to focus more on an entertainment level... and in that regard, it wasn't quite up to par.)



If Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost were to make a Shaun-esque film based around the hillbilly slasher genre, this would be very similar to the end product. When I first saw the trailer for this, I got super excited. Then, the other day, I found out it was available to rent on iTunes for VOD. I snatched it up quick. And I was not disappointed.

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are best friends that just so happen to be hillbillies. They've come to the countryside because Tucker's bought a fixer-upper cabin for a vacation home, and the two guys are going to spend some quality time. Dale has some confidence issues, and he's really hard on himself, as showcased when he first tries to talk to some college girls at a gas station who, for some reason, freak out when he comes over. Later, one of the college girls, Allison (Katrina Bowden), falls off a rock into the water, hitting her head. Tucker and Dale rescue her and take her back to their cabin. But her friends seem to think the two guys are psychotic and are going to kill her. But every time they try to rescue her, something bad happens, and it just starts looking worse and worse for Tucker and Dale.

The premise is excellent. It takes your basic hillbilly horror scenario and turns it on its head. What if those who look dangerous turn out to be harmless, and the ones who would end up as victims only get hurt because of their close-minded prejudice and stupidity? The only downside is that the trailer essentially shows the entire movie. There are a couple new things here and there, but it shows almost every major death and all the big scenes from beginning to end. Regardless, I still had a blast.

Alan Tudyk is probably the biggest name attached to this film, and he is great in it. However, the heart of the movie truly lies with Tyler Labine's Dale. He's such a loveable guy, and you can't help but feel for him. You just want him to succeed and want things to go right for him, and Labine acts the part very well. And when a certain moment comes between Dale and Allison, you're legitimately happy. That aside, the relationship between Tucker and Dale is nicely formed, as well. You can tell these two are great friends who would do anything for each other. And these guys aren't stereotypical hillbilly morons. They're written and acted as regular people, but maybe slightly dimmer (no more dumber than Shaun and Ed from Shaun of the Dead). And there's a fantastic moment between the two near the climax of the film that's less silly and much more heartfelt and emotional.

The college kids, with the exception of two (Allison and one other), are essentially pointless. They're just there for a body count and to exacerbate things. They're a giant joke--walking cliches. The way they act and speak are merely extreme versions of what you would expect in your typical young-adults-in-the-woods characters. In other words, don't go in expecting getting to know these characters (against, except two), as they aren't your leads. Tucker and Dale are. But that's the whole point of the movie, so this is definitely not a negative thing.

If you can go into this film with as little knowledge as possible, even maybe without having seen the trailer, that would be best. But if you already have and are as excited for the movie as I was, it still won't disappoint. If you're a fan of horror/comedies, this is one of the best in years. I can't wait for this film to hit DVD, as I can tell it will become a new favorite watch, and I already want to show it to as many people as I can. Not to oversell the movie--I didn't constantly laugh out loud (there were maybe 2-3 times), but it's more about the quality and heart and fun of the film that truly grabbed me. So... I don't know if you can tell, but I kinda-sorta liked it.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese


60/60 Review #44: GoodFellas.

Between the two "Crime" months on this list, I thought I'd enjoy the first one much more seeing it dealt with heists and the like. I was more worried about the second month due to a few things: 1) it following the longest month on this list, 2) it having a bunch of long films one after the other, and 3) it being about mobsters, which doesn't overly excite me. So color me surprised when I enjoyed very little of last month... and I'm already starting off this one in a very good way.

Goodfellas doesn't exactly have one straight story as much as it is the life and times of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his mob family. This family includes Paulie (Tom Sorvino), Jimmy (Robert De Niro), and Tommy (Joe Pesci). It also eventually includes his wife, Karen (Lorraine Bracco). Henry raises in the ranks and respects of his new family and goes has to deal with a handful of screw-ups.

The acting is top notch and a lot of fun. Joe Pesci, who earned a supporting actor Oscar for his role, is fantastic as the hot head Tommy. And this was a case where I knew some quotes and didn't realize they were from this movie (the "you're a funny guy" scene, for instance). Ray Liotta was good, but I've always thought he has a weird laugh (and he laughs a lot in this movie). It's mostly because of his teeth. But I still really liked him in it, despite his character turning out to be a total bastard by the end. And the kid who plays the younger version of him looks just like him.

Scorcese's direction is great, too, but there's something interesting I noticed. The visual style, the use of the camera, the dialogue, the music... it all reminded me heavily of early Tarantino. Hell, there's even a short appearance by Samuel L. Jackson. And it makes me wonder how influential this film was on Tarantino's beginnings with things like Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction. Moreso early in the film, there were a lot of long shots. There were some interesting shots, especially the more violent moments, too. And the use of music... I'm feeling redundant now, but everything about this movie made me think of early Tarantino.

The film is about two and a half hours long, but it never really drags. I was never bored. But you can still tell it's two and a half hours... if that makes sense. I don't have anything incredibly insightful to say about the movie. I can tell you I really, really enjoyed it. I would definitely watch it again. And if you've not seen it and you like crime films, I strongly recommend it. There's good humor, good dialogue, good acting, good "action" (though it's more just quick violence than outright action)... just all around very good.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. This is a strong rating--probably 4.5 out of 5. I would have given it the next rating up, but a little over halfway through, I started feeling the length. That's really the only thing I have against it.)



I've never seen the original film, and I've only seen bits and pieces of the Tim Burton remake. I thought the idea of this film could be a fun one, but I didn't think I'd be going to see it in theater. Then all the reviews came out and said how great it was. And then, of course, I heard Tom Felton was in it (gotta support Harry Potter alums!). So, finally, I decided to give it a try.

Will (James Franco) is attempting to find a cure of Alzheimer's, primarily since his father (John Lithgow) has it. But after a major debacle, the company needs to put all their test apes down. They discover a baby chimp eventually named Caesar, and Will takes it home so they don't have to kill it. He slowly discovers that the intelligence traits of his test-subject mother have been passed on to him, and he grows up becoming smarter and smarter. Unfortunately, after an attack on a neighbor (David Hewlett), Will and his girlfriend, Caroline (Freida Pinto), have to take Caesar to a sanctuary run by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his abusive son Dodge (Tom Felton). Things get worse from there.

One of my biggest concerns going into the film was the CGI, because they did look relatively fake from the trailer. And while you can still tell they're CGI and/or motion capture... they're done fantastically well. Andy Serkis is a genius with this kind of thing, and it's fascinating how much character he can bring to these types of... characters. And there were some apes I weren't sure if they were CGI or animatronic, so that's pretty dang good.

As for the other actors (besides Serkis), we're given James Franco as our lead. However, I found him much more charismatic when he was all alone in 127 Hours. He's good here, but he's not as strong as I think he could have been. His relationship with John Lithgow is great, though, and Lithgow delivers a wonderful performance. Freida Pinto is still as gorgeous as she was in Slumdog Millionaire (I haven't seen the other two she's done since), but her character isn't all that important. She's basically just there to be a love interest and that's about it. Tom Felton is just being Draco Malfoy with an American accent, but I have no problems there. I like him as Draco! The only other one I want to mention is David Hewlett, which was a great surprise. He's a long-time collaborator with a favorite director of mine, Vincenzo Natali, and I've been loving this guy since Cube. I totally didn't know he was going to be in this, and I loved it when he showed up.

The overall pacing of the film is alright. I was never really bored. My issue was that the film needed to take some more time with the emotional aspect. Sometimes things felt a wee bit rushed and I couldn't latch on to any character or feel what they were feeling. There's a point when a major character dies. Within seconds, they're doing funeral stuff, and about a minute later, the scene changes and it's never mentioned again. It's just that kind of thing. To go along with the rushed feeling, there are two or so moments in the latter half of the movie where they just kind of toss in the fact that astronauts are traveling to Mars (referencing the original film). This is important since the astronauts of the original would have needed to have left before the uprising, but it's more of a side note in this movie, as if they finished the script and were like "Oh... wait... we kinda need this in there somewhere, huh?" It could have been better if there were maybe news things in the background throughout the whole film.

All of this being said, I did really enjoy it. The action is good, the motion capture is excellent, and the acting works for what it is. It's an intense movie, even when nothing intense is happening. You can just feel the tension rising as the movie moves along, and you can tell what's coming. Another quick look over of the script could have made it great in that department, but as of now, it's just really good. And if they do make this into a prequel trilogy, I'd definitely go see the others.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Musical Monday: Mulan - I'll Make A Man Out Of You (#17).

[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 film might not be in Disney's Golden Era, but it's pretty much considered one of the best in the few years that followed. There are two songs everybody thinks of when they think of this film, and this one is the catchier of the two (and the fan favorite). It's essentially a training montage song, and Mulan (a woman) needs to show that she has the skills of a man (since she's pretending to be one), but is struggling even more than the men there with her. It's a very catchy song, and the visuals that go with it are fun, as well.

And just for giggles... here's the Chinese version of the song (along with a music video)... sung by none other than... Jackie Chan! No joke.


The Vlog - S3.12: Retribution/Reconciliation (Finale).

Here's episode S3.12.

Well, this is it! The moment you've all been waiting for. How will it all come together? This season, a dog puppet named Wrinkles became Nick's roommate and gave him the idea for the Story Time segment. Nick hired actors to perform these stories, which were based on actual events. 3 of the 5 focused on one or all of Kai, Jess, and Rachel and their backgrounds and how they came to either be with each other or hate each other--granted, we can't be certain if Rachel or Jess' version is the truth. The most recent Story Time involved the history of Wrinkles and Cokie. Apparently, especially based on the finale of last season, the two knew each other. Kai and Rachel hired him to cause some sweet revenge in the form of emotional distress, both for Jess and for Cokie. But due to the events of the previous season, Kai was under too much emotional stress himself and left to train, leaving Rachel alone to work with Wrinkles on this master plan. And now, with Wrinkles' past association with Cokie out in the open, it's only a matter of time before everything comes to a head... which it will, right now, in this epic season finale! Enjoy!

NOTE: There's a few special call-backs to last season's finale. See if you can find them! (hint... there's a more subtle one around the 8-minute mark.)

NOTE 2: Special Shout-Out to Brad Thuro, who did some great camera work (and a bit of lighting magic) in the hotel scene.

Also, as promised, once you finish watching... here are some extras! First, some deleted scenes and alternate takes:

Next, bloopers for the whole season:

All of that not enough for you? Well, check this out! The Vlog now has a Wiki (not Wikipedia, because it's not important enough)! That's right... all season plot descriptions, spoilers, character notes, and episode descriptions are available for viewing. Confused on any plot point from any of the last 3 seasons? Want to know the story archs of your favorite characters? Just take a gander! It's all there! And keep checking back for further updates.

Finally... a behind-the-scenes photo:


It's Coming...

The Season Finale. This Sunday. 9/4/11. Midnight (Central Time). Be There.