60/60 Review #56: Lawrence Of Arabia.

At the start of this project, I hadn't really been acquainted with many lengthy films outside of, say, Titanic. I mean, I thought a movie was long if it was 2 or 2.5 hours. Anything over 3 was insanity. Needless to say, this project has given me quite a bit more experience with the lengthier of the art. And at roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes, Lawrence of Arabia is one of the longest films on this list (though not the longest), and I believe wraps up as the final long epic of the year... which is kind of poetic in a way, since this is considered something like the epic of all epics.

The film tells the true story of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole), a British soldier who gets stationed in Arabia. He partners up with Prince Feisal (Alec Guinness) and creates a guerrilla army to fight against the Turks during World War I. He also, eventually, fights with the British again against the Ottoman Empire.

One of the most interesting things about this movie was that, despite its length, it had a pretty fine pacing. Part I of the film is slightly over the first two hours, and it moved very smoothly and quickly. I unfortunately did have to do other things as I watched (not because of the film, but because I was forced to double task... but I tried to pay as much attention as I possibly could, as it actually did interest me). I'm not sure if that had anything to do with it, or of the fact I had to watch it over the course of two nights (Part 1 on one night and Part 2 the next), but I felt similarly to this as I did with Gone With The Wind. It moved quickly, stayed interesting, had some really great cinematography, and was rather enjoyable.

I didn't enjoy everything, though. There were some aspects I didn't care for. Sometimes O'Toole's acting became a bit over-the-top and cheesy. Also, it was hard to believe that anyone could mistake him as an Arab at times, despite the fact that some clearly do. Then again, there could have been a point to that based on his actions (which I'll get to shortly). And there were a couple parts here and there that weren't as interesting to me as others. Most of them dealt with the British side of the story after the beginning.

However, I'd say one of my favorite aspects was one of the most unexpected. I don't know much about Lawrence, so I didn't realize how much of a character study it was going to be and how insane he gets. It's really a movie about this man's sanity. He goes into it rather green, though very intelligent. Then he learns their way, becomes like them, and is basically immersed in their way of life. When he returns to his home, he stays dressed in his garb from Arabia. It's not until a pivotal moment where he wants to give it up and be British again, but then finds he struggles to do so. And he goes back and you really see how much he's lost it. To be honest, this film would pair up nicely with The Hurt Locker, as I saw quite a few similarities between the two.

So I can't say that Lawrence of Arabia is for everyone, but I'm sure everyone could find something to like about it. Will I ever sit down and watch it again? Probably not. If for some reason it comes on TV and there's nothing else on and I have nothing to do, I might put it on and watch for a while. It's a spectacularly made film. Normally I say decent-sized chunks could be cut, but I'm not sure here. I know there's some that could be removed easily, but the film would still be over 3 hours long. If you like this kind of film and don't mind longer films, definitely check it out. If this isn't your cup of tea, you actually still might find something to enjoy with it, but I can't tell you to go out and watch it immediately. Really good, and I liked it much more than I thought I was going to.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. The soundtrack is excellent, too... and it took me forever to realize where I recognized the main theme from. So I looked it up and... yup, they use it for the score in the desert scenes in Spaceballs. That's a joke that makes so much more sense now.)

(P.P.S. That does it for this month! There's just one more left, guys and gals! And it should be an easy one. It's just what's left... the light stuff. First up? A movie I've been rather ashamed for quite a few years for never having seen... so it'll be great to finally check it out.



There's really only 4 reasons somebody is seeing this movie: 1) You're a fan of the series, 2) You're being dragged by a significant other who is a fan of the series, 3) You realize this series is terrible and love to laugh at it, or 4) plain morbid curiosity. As most of you know by now, I'm a mixture of the last two. In this one, Bella (Kristen Stewart) married vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), she gets pregnant, and everyone, including werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), gets in a huff because the baby starts to kill her from the inside.

Of the primary two male leads, I've always been a "Team Jacob" person. He tends to treat her well, generally respect her wishes (even if he hates them), love her unconditionally, and fight for her until the very end. Edward, on the other hand, is mopey, boring, mean, controlling, and has way too many stalker/serial killer tendencies. He really tops it off in this one, where he treats Bella as if her feelings and opinions don't matter (and then accuses her of not including him). Not to mention Bella always seems like it pains her to be with him, while she always laughs, feels good, and even says she feels "complete" with Jacob. The Edward relationship has always felt forced, and it makes Bella seem like an even worse person than she already is by treating Jacob the way she does.

Nothing in these stories makes any sense. Everything contradicts itself, and nothing these characters do is logical. And this movie, yet again, proves that all of the other characters besides the main three are far more interesting. From the rest of the Cullen siblings to Charlie to Seth to the 5 minutes of screen time we see Bella's old high school friends. They were all far more entertaining than the primary story.

The acting, however, has quite improved, especially since the first film. Kristen Stewart still needs to learn how to smile during the most important moments of her life, though. Even Edward gives a grin here and there. Surprisingly, Taylor Lautner doesn't act with his abs in this movie. Literally the first shot in this movie is him taking off his shirt, but after that... he tends to keep it on for pretty much the remainder of the film. Sorry, ladies. The one person I do want to give it up to here is Jackson Rathbone as Jasper. He might have only had about 3 minutes of screen time in this entire film (and that's stretching it), but he showed more charm and personality in those 3 minutes than he has for the past 3 films combined. Oh yeah, and Billy Burke's Charlie is still the best character in this entire thing.

What brings these films down is, of course, the writing. But you can't really blame screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, though. It all goes back to the source material. In fact, I've always said that the films are better than the books because at least you don't have to read Stephenie Meyer's terrible writing and how godly Edward's breath is every other sentence. And actually, Melissa Rosenberg tends to be in on the joke with the audience, putting in little quips here and there that make fun of the material. In the last film it was about Jacob's shirtlessness. In this one, it was toward how terrible the name Renesmee is. There was actually a surprising amount of humor in this movie, and I don't just mean the unintentional kind. I also must thank our dear screenwriter yet again for adding in an action sequence where the book skipped over it.

As for my opinion on the seemingly much-talked-about "pack mind" sequence? I'll just say it worked much better in the book. The telepathic talking between the wolves was silly, but it would have been silly no matter how they translated it onto the screen. The Jacob section of the book was arguably the best and/or only good thing in the entire 800 (or however many) pages. It didn't translate nearly as well to the screen.

Finally, I want to discuss the visuals. As usual, the CGI is rather questionable, especially Renesmee's face at the very end (what was that?). The practical effects, however, were actually quite exceptional. They finally made the vampires not look obvious, and Edward didn't look disgusting for once. So the makeup job on them was decent. The best work, however, was most likely a mix of practical and digital, making Bella look gaunt and deathly ill. It was done pretty dang well, so I must give credit where credit is due.

Was it a bad movie? It's Twilight, so there's no question. There are logical holes abound. The main characters are unlikable morons. The story goes on for far longer than they need to (Hell, the books alone could have easily been condensed into maybe 2 or 3 max, making this 2-part finale even more ridiculous than it already is). But was it entertaining? Yeah, it was. Like the previous film, it tried to actually be good for once, and at times it might have succeeded. But that also means it makes it a less entertaining Twilight film. As usual with this type of film, the following rating is based on entertainment only, not on overall quality.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. There was a teen girl next to me who started squirming and going 'eww' when a certain character began drinking blood. This is a freakin' vampire story, girl. What the hell do you expect?)


60/60 Review #55: A Streetcar Named Desire.

Oh. My. God. Shut. UP!

That's pretty much how I felt while watching this movie. Fifteen minutes in, and I figured it was going to be a long two hours. But somewhere around the 30-minute mark, things just clicked--everybody in this movie is freakin' insane. Blanche (Vivien Leigh) moves to New Orleans to stay with her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter). Unfortunately, Stella's husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando) doesn't take to liking Blanche much. She drives him crazy, and he shows his quick temper and violent side. But he's also trying to figure out why Blanche is really there and if she's keeping any secrets from them.

There is no likeable character in this movie. A guy named Mitch, who takes a liking to Blanche, comes close. But even he's knocked off his rocker by the end (though I suppose a bit understandably). Blanche is quite literally certifiably insane. On top of that, she's mean, manipulative, cruel, and doesn't even realize any of it. Within minutes of seeing her sister again, she insults her home, calls her fat, and then begs for compliments. And she never... shuts... up. And you know that's bad coming from me, considering I'm a pretty big fan of Toby Turner. Then you have Stanley, who snaps at any little thing and gets violent and abusive. Finally there's Stella, who is dumb enough to keep going back to him (I know, there's development by the end, but still).

I suppose I'll give it up to the acting. Everybody played their part incredibly well. But as I've said in the past--just because something is done well doesn't mean I have to like it. I think Brando and Leigh are deserving of any accolades they received, but I still found them to be annoying. Doesn't mean they were bad. It just means I didn't care for it.

So once I realized everybody in the movie belonged in a mental institution (and what do you know, SPOILERS, they at least partially listened to me for once), the movie was easier to handle. I just viewed it kind of like a train wreck. It's actually too bad Stanley and Blanche didn't end up falling for each other, otherwise I could have made some very poignant Twilight comparisons. Alas, they did not. So instead, I'm just left with a very well acted (though to be honest, sometimes a wee bit over-the-top) movie with totally unlikeable characters. And that's that.

Stop Saying OK! OK.


60/60 Extra: Boogie Nights.

This is going to be one of those difficult reviews. Where do you even start with a movie like this? Well, I guess we can start with expectations. Paul Thomas Anderson has four major films. I've now seen three of them. I really liked There Will Be Blood, though it had its problems. I hated Magnolia, though I need to see it again. And from what I've heard, Punch-Drunk Love is a love it or hate it kind of movie, with a majority leading toward the latter. I also saw the 2.5-hour time span of this film and thought "great, another super-long drama." Fortunately, that's only partially true.

The film is about the ups and downs of the porn industry and everybody involved with it in the 70s and 80s. Leading the cast is Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler, a high school drop-out who wants to make something out of himself based on the fact he has a huge... talent. He teams up with director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) and his wife(?), Amber Waves (Julianne Moore). He befriends another couple of porn stars named Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly) and Rollergirl (Heather Graham). Also on tap are Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Thomas Jane, and Alfred Molina. (And holy crap, Tom Lenk was in this? Buffy fans know who I'm talkin' about. Twas his first role, apparently.)

So yeah, obviously, this has one epic cast. I'm not even going to bother talking about the acting, because it's all pretty stellar. And they were backed up with some fantastic writing, to boot. What I was most surprised about was how funny this movie was. IMDb labels it as a straight drama. I mean, I should have known from There Will Be Blood, but still. The first hour and a half (and/or the 70s segment) had me laughing out loud at times. There are definitely some fantastic quotes in this film.

But then came the drama. The last hour of the movie (and/or the 80s segment) is practically straight drama, which was an rough transition from the lighter fare of the first 90 minutes. I thought the following 25-30 minutes was difficult to get through. I thought it dragged, bringing the what had up until then been excellent pacing down to almost a halt. Fortunately, it does pick up again. Right before the 2-hour mark, in maybe the last 30 or so minutes of the movie, it grabbed my attention again. This is the part where everybody's lives have hit rock bottom. Don Cheadle can't catch a break; Wahlberg, Reilly, and Jane are failures; and Reynolds and Graham have sold out--and all of this comes to a head in a great moment.

Besides that little rough patch, I thought the film was fantastic. The camera work, the style, and the editing were superb. And I thought the music was decent for the most part, but when you have a mixture of Jessie's Girl and 99 Luft Balloons during a shootout, you have some geniuses at work. I said this was a tough review because reviews that rave are dull to write and boring to read. I suppose if I wanted to spark some conversation, I would say this: There's some serious reverse-Oedipus Complex stuff going on here. The mom at the beginning came off as jealous that her son/Wahlberg was getting off with another girl (and/or posters), and Julianne Moore constantly saw Wahlberg as her son... and then banged him continually. That's all I have to say, so I'll just leave it at that.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese

(P.S. ...Penis.)


Musical Monday: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog - Brand New Day (#6).

[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.]

There's very little to talk about here. It's my favorite song in the movie. It's awesome. Dr. Horrible finally snaps, realizing how he can get everything he's always wanted in one plan. So... yeah. Just check it out.


Harry Potter... Meet Oscar?

For the upcoming Oscars, there has been one film that has been on everybody's lips--whether they're talking about the film will definitely be there or there's no way in Hell it'll be there. That film is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. And as quite a known HP enthusiast, I feel I should give my serious thoughts on the subject.

Now, the biggest argument that is pushing for the films winning is that it's the biggest (and most profitable) film series in history and should be acknowledged as such (such as Lord of the Rings was with Return of the King). Detractors, on the other hand, have said that LOTR was one film with one vision (and that also ROTK was deserving in and of itself), and HP is a series with multiple directors, multiple visions, etc. You could argue that David Yates' films have been the best of the series anyway (shut it, Cuaron fanboys!). Even if you don't agree with that, you could mix Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 together and have a one film/one epic/one vision push as it was with LOTR. Yet detractors will come back and say LOTR were all picked up by the Oscars, whereas the Harry Potter films were not. So I want to take both sides into account.

Believe it or not, I'm not going to be a stringent pusher or detractor. I want to take a serious look at each possibility that Warner Bros. put up For Your Consideration and have a discussion. I'm not here to make Oscar predictions for other films (I refuse to mention any other possible contenders in this article). I would just like to spend a wee bit of time on whether or not what WB is pushing for is actually going to happen (or if I think it should happen). So let's get into it.


Alexandre Desplat gave an amazing, haunting score for both Parts 1 and 2. I think that, at the very least, it should be nominated. It's an amazing score. It's hard to say it should win based on the "Epic Series" argument. Like with the directors, the films have had many different composers. Granted, David Yates is known for taking the best of everything from the previous films and mixing it in with his own vision to help with the continuity. The score is one of those things. To top it off, all the films have, at the very least, used John Williams' "Hedwig's Theme," which is now an iconic bit of scoring in and of itself. You could argue that Hedwig's Theme is the one bit that an "Epic Series" win could definitely cover (but you could also argue how fair that would be to John Williams, who was actually nominated back in the day, but didn't win). Though at the very end when the theme swelled, got extremely loud and incredibly close to my heart, it did bring back memories and nearly brought tears.

So it just comes back to Desplat. I do feel his score is strong enough to be nominated. Will it win? We'll have to wait and see what else is nominated. But for right now, I do think it can be a contender.


Deathly Hallows (both films) are two of the most beautiful films in the entire series (shut it, Cuaron fanboys!). Eduardo Serra has an amazing eye. You can't argue that, no matter how you feel about the series, that these films don't look pretty damn good. Again, you can't use the "Epic Series" argument for this category, as there have been multiple cinematographers, and all of the films aren't necessarily worthy of it. In fact, I'd only say half are (Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows 1 and 2... and the only one of those actually nominated is Half-Blood Prince). So it would be up to the (2) film(s) itself.

Now, Deathly Hallows Part 1 wasn't nominated for Cinematography (which I feel was an upset), so what is the likelihood Part 2 will be? Part 2 gives us a lot of carnage, though that might not be enough visually. Maybe they were waiting for the second part to honor both at the same time through the latter half. Like the previous category, I think it deserves to at least be nominated... but will it win? There have been some strong contenders for this category this year, but I can see this getting a nomination easy.


Is any other category more worthy of a win than this one? First of all, it's based on one of the biggest young adult series' of all time. And despite how you feel about Steve Kloves' adaptation skills, he is one of the Top 3 that helped to bring these films to the screen (the other two being Stuart Craig (production designer, who is truly the artist of these films) and David Heyman (executive producer)). Only one other person came on as writer through the series (Michael Goldenberg - Order of the Phoenix); though some may argue that that one was one of the best. Regardless, if the Academy is going to give it a win for the "Epic Series" argument, it will be in this category. It maybe has 2 strong possible contenders.

Does it hold up as a film adaptation in and of itself? Taking out the "Epic Series" argument, this film might suffer. It's the second half of a 2-part film, and most have argued that not only does it have a strange opening because of this, but the epilogue ending (despite coming straight from the book... I mean, look at the descendants' names alone... Albus Severus, Scorpius, Teddy, Hugo, etc.) isn't strong, either. I honestly don't believe, however, that it will be nominated simply for itself.

There is absolutely no way this film will not get a nomination. There is perhaps a female with skin ink-related film that could upset it; however, I think that this, over any other category, will give the movie its win. But it will be close.


There are two up for this category, and I can make it through this one pretty fast.

-Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange)

No. Ain't gonna happen. Despite the fact that HBC is a perfect choice for the role, it's not a Oscar-worthy performance. At all. Sorry. It's probably not even going to be considered for a nomination.

-Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall)

Had the film series included McGonagall to the degree the books do (she's a total iron lady with a heart of gold), there could be a possibility of nomination. Maggie Smith is great in the part (not to mention she's awesome in the final film), but her film inclusion is so miniscule that it's really not worth a nomination.


This is going to be a tough one for me, personally. Again, there are two up for consideration. But are they worthy?

-Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort)

Fiennes is a fine actor (no pun intended), but Voldemort is a little too over-the-top and silly to be considered. I truly can't see this happening.

-Alan Rickman (Snape)

This is the tough one. Sure, people make fun of his long, slow speech with pauses. But Snape is one of the greatest literary characters in modern history, and Rickman portrays him brilliantly (again, despite not being given adequate screen time in comparison to the books). It's become famous that JK Rowling told Rickman about Snape's secret, which could have been a dangerous method of getting what she wanted out of him (due to trusting him in keeping it for a decade), but it led to a perfect performance. Though if we're looking at the films, Rickman is at the top of his game in Part 2, and he could be nominated for The Prince's Tale segment alone.

Should he win? Probably not. But I think Rickman should get a nomination for his role over the last 10 years, culminating into a fantastic set of flashbacks in the final film. Will the nomination actually happen? I doubt it. But I would love to see it.


Only one on this list, and it's pretty obvious who.

-Emma Watson (Hermione Granger)

No. Of the Trio, I think Watson is the weakest. I actually think she captured Hermione perfectly in the first two films, then became pretty rough in the middle films. She was better in Half-Blood Prince and actually pretty excellent in both Deathly Hallows. But while her performance is quite good in the last two films, it definitely isn't worth an Oscar nomination.


Again, the obvious two choices are here... and I'm going to have a similar opinion.

-Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)

If Radcliffe were to be nominated, it would be for the "Epic Series" argument. However, I doubt it will happen. There are too many other excellent performances this year. Sorry.

-Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley)

Grint is the best of the Trio, I feel, but if Radcliffe isn't getting a nom, there's no way Grint will, either. Again, sorry.


David Yates has directed half of the entire series. In this blogger's opinion, his films have been the best (shut it, Cuaron fanboys!). But there are seemingly thousands of other strong contenders this year that it would be miraculous for Yates to get a nomination. I mean, I suppose it could be possible. Everything's possible. But with a category of only 5 spots to fill, the only reason would be to fill the spot for the "Epic Series" argument.

Would it be fun to see? Yeah. But even if he got a nomination, there's no way he'd win. And I don't think he'll even get the nom. And this just leaves one more category.


This has been the most talked about category over the past year. Will it received a Best Picture nomination? On top of that, will it win? The sole argument for not only its nomination, but its win, is the "Epic Series" argument. I honestly have no clue. I would like it to be nominated. I doubt it would win, but I'd like to see recognition here. I'm just not sure, based on everything I've talked about, if the "Epic Series" argument is enough to drive the nomination.

But who knows? I guess I'm just with everybody else. There's a 50/50 chance.


The Demented Podcast #27 - Outsourced To Sweden.

Today we're joined by Joel Burman of Deny Everything to discuss Neo-Westerns with Bad Day At Black Rock and The Good, The Bad, The Weird. It's an interesting set of conversations that go from marketing some brilliant ideas to having serious discussions about a Post-9/11 world. Warning that, as usual, spoilers are abound.

Then Joel gives us a Tower performance that we won't soon forget. But for what reasons? Listen to find out!

Also, stay tuned after the closing music for a little something special.

Current Tower Leaderboard
1) Dan - 164 Points
2) Steve - 133 Points
3) Tom - 105 Points
4) Jason - 101 Points
5) Scott - 97 Points
6) Alan - 86 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.


60/60 Review #54: The Lives Of Others.

Most of you probably know by now (or have at least gathered) that straight dramas aren't really my cup of tea. I need to have some kind of other element in there, or at least make it somewhat stylish (City of God, for a recent example). I knew practically nothing of this film going into it except that it's about a guy who listens to people and it won an Oscar (and everybody and their mother hyped it up to me over the last year). And IMDb labels it as drama first, thriller second. About an hour into this 2+ hour movie, I'm asking myself where the thrill is.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Lives of Others takes place in Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) is a Stasi, or State Security officer. He's one of the best, and he's been tasked to keep surveillance on a writer named Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria (Martina Gedeck). During this time, however, he begins to obsess over them and finds himself too emotionally attached... to the point he alters what really happens to avoid getting them in trouble with the law.

I will be honest--the first hour or so of the film I found rather dull. The opening with the interrogation was good, but after that, I found the pacing drastically pulled back. This was the "straight drama" part of the film. Eventually, though, it found a good footing in some minor suspense and caught my attention again. To be fair, though, I did appreciate and enjoy Wiesler's evolution as a character from heartless to compassionate. I also really liked some bits in the middle (where my attention started being grabbed again) where he truly begins getting captivated by what's going on and you realize he's one lonely man--he even goes so far as to hire a prostitute, and she leaves him still emotionally unsatisfied. It's a great moment. There's also a fantastic bit where he's listening to the couple, and he's essentially holding himself, taking the moment in and trying to live through them.

The acting is fantastic all across the board. Of course, I found Muhe's Wiesler to be the best, but everybody was totally on their game throughout. I know this is a vital element to a drama, as the dilemmas of the characters and how they react to them is the sole heart and purpose of the genre. So for a film to be able to take you to the point you're sympathizing with somebody who is essentially one of the bad guys means that they did something right (well... in most cases. I suppose there are movies where you hate the good guys so much that you root for the baddies, but that's not the case here).

Anyway, it's safe to say that I did enjoy roughly two-thirds of the film. There's about a 20-minute epilogue after the story really ends to help wrap up everything. At first it seems a bit unnecessary, but by the end it makes sense. It's a fascinating premise and a very well-made film. The acting is solid, as is everything else (down to the superb music score). I'm still not a huge fan of dramas, but despite it not being my favorite type of movie, I can agree that it deserves all the acknowledgement it received.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. That rating is for my personal entertainment score, not to be confused with a rating of quality, which I admit would probably be higher. I'll just say that if you're a fan of dramas, you should definitely check it out.)


60/60 Extra: Brokeback Mountain.

I want to start off by saying that, although I live in Texas, I am not homophobic in any way, shape, or form. I fully support the GLBT community. The only reason it has taken me this long to see this movie is, well... I just never got around to it. That being said, let's get into the review. It's almost pointless to talk about the plot, because everybody knows what this is just by the title. Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) are two cowboys who get a job wrangling sheep on Brokeback Mountain one summer. They grow close--very close. The job ends and they move on to their normal lives, having relationships and building families. Ennis marries Alma (Michelle Williams), and Jack hooks up with Lureen (Anne Hathaway). But their relationship with each other rekindles, though it slowly destroys both their lives.

I know this film won 3 Oscars (including adapted screenplay, as it was adapted from a short story) and was nominated for more. But... I just couldn't get into it. I didn't find it all that interesting. Now, the idea behind it is interesting--two guys share a romance that tears apart their personal lives during a time when such relationships are forbidden. There's room for great conflict, great drama, and great character development. But I wonder if the fact it came from a short story and was turned into a 2+ hour movie is a bit telling. I don't think there was enough plot to stretch it into such a long movie. Because of this, I was mostly just bored.

What saved the movie was the acting from the two leads. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are fantastic. Ledger, though, was the standout to me between the two, which makes it even sadder to me that he's gone. I didn't care for the female leads, though. Michelle Williams seemed awkward and forced, like she wasn't quite sure she knew what she was doing. And Anne Hathaway almost felt out of place. Apparently Anna Faris was in this movie, too, but I must have blinked, because when her name came up in the credits at the end, I did a double-take.

Overall, I appreciate what this movie did for the GLBT community, and I really liked the two male performances. However, it could have been trimmed down, as I mostly just found it rather dull. I mostly blame me not caring for Ang Lee, though. This is the fourth film of his I've seen, and only one of those four I didn't find particularly dry--which is funny, considering it was the one based on a Jane Austen novel. (Crouching Tiger was good, but rather slow at times itself. Don't even get me started on Hulk.) So I'll just leave it at that.

Stop Saying OK! OK.


Musical Monday: Annie - It's A Hard Knock Life (#7).

[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.]

Easily one of the most memorable and catchy songs from a classic musical. It's a fun yet strong number. It's sung well by such a large cast of girls. It's also choreographed very well. And there's moments of sarcasm and smart-assery, which people like me will always appreciate. There's not much more to say about it. It's " It's A Hard Knock Life" from Annie.



So, this was basically my most anticipated movie for the second half of the year (Deathly Hallows being for the first). I'm a huge fan of mythologies of any kind, but Greek, of course, was my first love (as it is for most people). When I first saw the trailers for this film, I became pretty dang excited. But were my expectations too high? The movie tells us the story of Theseus (Henry Cavill), a peasant who gets caught up in the war to stop King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who wants to free the Titans. Along the way, he teams up with a virgin oracle named Phaedra (Freida Pinto) among others, and gets help from the likes of Zeus (Luke Evans) and an Old Man (John Hurt). Stephen Dorff also co-stars as a rouge thief that teams up with Theseus.

Well, let's start with the obvious: this movie is freakin' gorgeous. If I were to make a Top 10 Most Gorgeous Movies Ever (and I just might), this would definitely make the list. Director Tarsem Singh aimed to make the film look like a painting, and he damn well succeeded. And sure, the costumes (particularly helmets and masks) could get a bit silly, but I still thought it fit the overall setting. But not only is it visually pleasing through the cinematography, but the action sequences are--at times--jaw dropping. In particular, any time the gods fight... well, let's just say it's what you'd expect to see in a God of War film adaptation. Fantastically stunning and brutal. The only visual issue was a CGI hyena (or something) that looks very fake, but it's probably in the movie for less than a minute total.

One thing it took me a while to figure out about this film is how it was approaching the mythology. I know chunks of Theseus' story (the labyrinth and minotaur, for instance), but that's about it. Typically, there are two ways to adapt a legendary story. The first is to keep in all the magic and mystical elements. The second is to make it more realistic, or the "how it really happened/what really inspired the legend" type stories (i.e. King Arthur or the most recent Robin Hood). The reason it took me so long to figure this movie out is that it mixes the two types together. Let me explain...

It makes things more realistic in that, for instance, Hyperion is a man instead of a Titan. The Minotaur is a brutal warrior in a rather freaky outfit (it works, though). The Titans themselves are more monstrous men instead of giant creatures. Tartarus is a mountain, not a pit in the Underworld. Things like that. However, at the same time it's doing this, it does keep in the gods. It does keep in mystical objects (like the Bow). It keeps that magic and mysticism to keep it routed in mythology. Once I figured this out, I enjoyed the film much more. I realized that this made it seem more realistic in terms of how the Greeks might have viewed things. The battles and wars and deaths and locations were all real, tangible things. But every now and then, when necessary, the gods would interfere. In other words, just because you say "this is how the legend really happened" doesn't mean the gods never existed or played a part.

The acting was pretty good around the board. None of it was super fantastic, but you don't really go into a movie like this and expect it to be, either. There were some interesting choices for the roles all around (John Hurt being the best). But I think these are probably the youngest I've seen the gods portrayed, particularly Zeus. Still, they did fine, as did the other actors. Though I'll be honest--Freida Pinto could be terrible and I wouldn't care. I think she's one of the most gorgeous actresses working today. (And she has a nude scene in this! I can't be 100% it wasn't a body double, though... but still!).

Most things I've read about it harp on the script and the dialogue. Besides the thousand mentions of either "the gods" or how one will be "immortalized in history" and the like, I don't recall anything that could give people much to complain about. In fact, I think the way the title was interpreted in the film was a good one. Instead of being about the obvious--the gods--it took it in a different direction. The title is more in reference to being remembered through time or being important in the grand scheme of things. There's also stuff about souls being immortal, as well.

In fact, if I find fault in anything in this movie, it's that there wasn't enough action. The action that is in the film is perfect. But I felt that when there wasn't any action going on, the film either tended to drag or not feel like it was moving forward. This mostly occurred in the first half of the film--and perhaps I felt this way because it was about the halfway point when I had my aforementioned realization. It just seemed like a lot was happening but it wasn't much at the same time. But then again, I'm sure if there was more action, people would be complaining that there wasn't enough substance. And I do have to say that the film does attempt to give you both substance and characters to care for. There was just an issue I can't quite put my finger on, and the best I can come up with is that it needed more action sequences.

The film has been compared non-stop to 300 (partially due to the fact it's the same producers). It's almost nothing like 300 outside of being a stylized Greek myth story. I do feel that Immortals won't find a proper audience until it hits DVD and Blu-Ray, which is a shame, as it's stunning enough that a big screen viewing of it is almost required to gather in all the aesthetics of it. Finally, I'll briefly mention the 3D--it doesn't add much, but it's not a detriment whatsoever. It still looks beautiful and the action brutally awesome. Perhaps I went in with expectations too high, but I still really enjoyed it, mostly thanks to the visuals and the action.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


60/60 Anniversary + Announcement!

I don't know if you've realized this... but today marks the 1-year anniversary of the 60/60. On November 10th, 2010, I posted the review for the first film of this project. I only have a few more reviews until the 60/60 ends, but... there's another coming up! Well, it's the 50/50, anyway. So to honor the anniversary of the first review... what's better than to show you what films I'll be reviewing next year? As I said before, I'll only be doing one review a week for the project next time (no extras). Also, each month is dedicated to a different person's choices. I took those choices, matched them against each other, and came up with the final list. So, dear readers, here is the list of films for next year's 50/50, which will start halfway through January.


18: Jackie Brown
25: Dirty Harry


1: Hausu (House)
8: Videodrome
15: Naked (1993)
22: The Red Shoes
29: Black Orpheus


7: Ruthless People
14: Gymkata
21: Big Trouble in Little China
28: Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster


4: City Lights
11: His Gal Friday
18: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
25: Le Samourai


2: The Re-Animator
9: Lone Wolf McQuade
16: The Monster Squad
23: Escape From New York
30: Friday the 13th Part 6 - Jason Lives


6: Scotland, PA
13: Richard III (1995)
20: Titus (1999)
27: Much Ado About Nothing


4: Road House
11: Point Break
18: Trainspotting
25: Rushmore


1: Once Upon A Time In The West
8: Sherlock Jr.
15: Suspiria
22: We Own The Night
29: Peeping Tom


5: The Devil's Backbone
12: Tampopo
19: Double Indemnity
26: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)


3: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
10: Friday the 13th Part III
17: Invisible Man (1931)
24: Watership Down
31: Abres Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes)


7: Out of Africa
14: High Fidelity
21: Star Trek: First Contact
28: Grosse Point Blank


5: Pusher
12: Pusher II
19: Pusher III
26: Infernal Affairs


60/60 Review #53: City Of God.

Where to begin? I didn't know much going into this movie going into it outside the fact it's considered one of the best movies ever made (hence why it made the list)... and, of course, the one-sentence plot summary that IMDb gives. So I gave it a watch and... I understand perfectly where people are coming from.

The film follows Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues)--though it's not particularly about him. Some will say the movie is about both he and a trigger-happy, drug-dealing hood named Li'l Ze (Leandro Firmino). But I disagree. The movie is split up into "stories" that flesh out certain places or characters. I think the most telling segment is the Apartment's story. It's a brief bit that tells you the history of this single apartment that eventually leads to Li'l Ze taking over the city. Why is this the most telling? Because it's a miniature version of the entire film itself. Somebody ran it before, somebody takes it over through violence, runs it for a while, somebody else takes it through violence, and the cycle continues. The main character of this movie is the City of God itself, and we follow who comes in and out of the city, runs the city, destroys the city, etc. Rocket, Li'l Ze, and all the others are merely guests in the story of this city.

That being said, the city has one hell of a story to tell. It's a fascinating movie with fascinating characters. The good guys aren't totally good, the bad guys aren't totally bad, and even Li'l Ze--as insane as he is--does attempt to be more human once or twice. And even though the story of the city is on a cycle, it never felt like it was repeating itself. It never really dragged, either. And despite being moderately lengthy, it has a good pacing.

The acting is phenomenal, and it brings out the quality writing. There are a few moments where maybe the dialogue isn't up to snuff (though that could possibly be blamed on translation?). But otherwise, the storytelling and voice-over narration and everything is rather solid.

The film is also visually stunning. The cinematography and the editing are fun and unique and, at times, rather stylistic. It partially reminded me, at times, of something Danny Boyle might do. Sometimes it was steadicam, sometimes shaky cam, sometimes vibrant, sometimes grainy, sometimes moving pictures, sometimes still pictures, sometimes full screen, sometimes split screen (or partially split screen). It was all done very well, and it made what would otherwise be a gritty, dark film more bearable.

If you have yet to check out this film, I strongly suggest doing so. It's superbly made on all levels. The visuals, acting, writing, directing, etc., are all fantastic. It's much more of a character piece than a plot-driven drama. However, as I said before, the human characters are only incidental. The film is about the city, and all the other characters just show up in each other's stories and grow. And even though it's not the easiest film to sit through (it is rather dark and can be disturbing), it's quite a sight to see.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese

(P.S. I also have to give it props for literally being the only movie I've ever seen based in or around Rio to not exploit--or even show--the Christ the Redeemer statue.)


Musical Monday: Man of La Mancha - The Impossible Dream (#8).

[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. I damn near forgot about this. it's been a crazy day (and I'm not feeling 100%). Anyway, I'll keep this short. This is a great film with some great music. This particular song (and its reprise) is incredibly powerful. It has a great message and is sung beautifully and emotionally. It's The Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha.


The Demented Podcast #26 - The Chainsaw Is His Penis.

What a better way to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of DemPod than with Jason Soto? He, Steve, and I have a blast talking about slashers with 2 films that... well... aren't really slashers. On board first is an Italian crime drama (and/or giallo) called Blood and Black Lace. Then we take on the film that brought Christian Bale to the forefront--American Psycho.

After that, we play The Tower, and I must say it's one of my favorite Tower stories that we've done in a long time. But besides that, how does Jason do? Well... listen to find out!

Current Tower Leaderboard
1) Dan - 164 Points
2) Steve - 133 Points
3) Tom - 105 Points
4) Scott - 97 Points
5) Alan - 86 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.


60/60 Review #52: The Seventh Seal.

So... you have a character that has visions, a character that prolongs his life by attempting to beat death, Death himself following them around taking lives in his wake, some dark humor, and (spoilers!) an ending where those he affects by his extended life end up with his same fate. Dude... The Seventh Seal was the original Final Destination!

Seriously, though... the movie follows Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), a knight of the Crusades, who was supposed to die but instead challenges Death (Bengt Ekerot) to a game of chess. If he wins, he gets a reprieve, but he does get to an extension as long as the game goes on. He continues traveling with his squire Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand), and eventually meet up with a man-and-wife actors troupe, Jof (Nils Poppe) and Mia (Bibi Andersson). Together, everybody ponders the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Oh, and Jof occasionally has visions of things that nobody believes he actually has.

I've known about this film since I was a kid, mostly for the chess playing bit (in part thanks to Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey). It's too bad, however, that in the 90 or so minutes of this film, that only takes up roughly 5 minutes throughout the overall film. The majority of the movie follows the characters speaking about life and death and more life and more death and the mysteries therein. In other words, the movie is nothing but philosophy. Some might find that interesting. Others might find it painfully dull. Me? I land somewhere in the middle, landing closer to the side of interesting. But I can't deny that after an hour of what feels like the same conversation, one tends to drift off.

It actually works mostly for 2 reasons: the writing and the acting. The writing is pretty damn fantastic and quite poetic in nature. Like I said, the entire thing is rather philosophical, and the way the characters speak to each other is quite beautiful. But if the acting wasn't there to believably deliver those words, it wouldn't have worked. But it does.

And the most surprising aspect of the film was the fact it had attempts at humor. Of course, none of it made me laugh out loud, but I did find parts amusing. Jof, in particular, was a fun character. And Jons the squire had a few good lines (like having written a song about a randy fish).

For the film itself, the writing, acting, and cinematography were excellent. The overall direction and production of it was great. But I think, though, that I liked the idea of the film more than the film itself. I liked what it represented and what it discussed. But the final product was a bit too dry for me.

I Am McLovin!