May 24, 2010

Movie Review #37

MacGruber (2010) Will Forte, Kristen Wiig Directed by Jorma Taccone

The summer has started a bit slow, with The Pacific dominating my entertainment taste buds the past few weeks (if you haven’t seen it…see it!) and the lack of movies out there that are drawing my attention (I guess I’m waiting for the A-team), I haven’t been too excited to see movies. I had to force myself a bit this past weekend with two films (Robin Hood #38 is the other) that really did draw me in, but more so won my ticket money by being the best options of some bad options (obviously I’m not a Shrek guy). It is certainly debatable whether the “MacGruber” character from the SNL shorts and the popular Pepsi commercials deserved his own film, but this is how SNL works. For every Waynes World, there is a The Ladies Man (if you don’t remember this Tim Meadows film…do yourself a favor and never look it up) when it comes to these SNL films and though MacGruber is not as good as Waynes World or as bad The Ladies Man, it still has the feel of something that you should be watching free on TV (and judging by its lackluster 4.5 million dollar opening weekend, most people thought that).

MacGruber is the story of a an Ex-Special Forces operative that is brought out of retirement to fight his arch-nemesis who has stolen a nuclear missile. Dieter Von Cunth (played by Val Kilmer in his funniest role since Top Secret) is the bad guy, Lt. Dixon Piper (played by Ryan Phillippe, and believe me after you see this film you will never think of him the same way) plays the new partner, and Vicki St. Elmo (played by SNL alum Kristen Wiig) is the love interest. It is basically pointless to go over the plot points here as they are meaningless (and like MacGrubar I’ll just wing it), so I will tell you simply whether it was funny or not…yeah um it was pretty funny. It isn’t quite Hot Tub Time Machine, but it does have several memorable moments including an odd use of celery and a hilarious sex scene. Nobody in the film takes anything too seriously and the jokes are ambiguous enough that not much set up is really necessary. It is a forced 90 minutes and it is directed by an SNL director so don’t expect flawless timing throughout, but it is funny watching MacGrubar pull his stereo out of his car radio slot and carry it every single time he gets out of it…oh yeah his car is also a Miata…Ha! I marginally recommend it…it’s full of potty mouthness and gross out nudity, so send the kids to Shrek 4 and sneak out to see this if you are in need of a laugh…but go in with light expectations.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) Classic 80’s music, The Iceman (Val Kilmer) doing funny again, and a hilarious love scene that will be a top ten funny moment on film this year is enough to sneak a 5.5 on The Shawshank Scale…no need to run to MacGruber (it would blow up accidently before you got there anyway), but catch it when you can.

Food For Thought: I rocked out an awesome Birthday cake ice cream cup this time around (and if you haven’t tried it yet go get yourself a Caramel Frappe at McDonalds…its good). Val Kilmer has a decent looking thriller coming out this year called The Traveler and Ryan Phillippe has a very cool looking movie called The Bang Bang Club coming out later this year as well about combat photographers capturing the final days of the apartheid in South Africa.

DVD Review #37

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009) Heath Ledger, Chrisopher Plummer Directed By Terry Gilliam.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus was sold as Heath Ledgers last film. In fact because he died before shooting was finished he is replaced in the film by three big actors (and because this is a Terry Gilliam film of 12 Monkeys fame) this occurs seamlessly and flawlessly. This film is slow, it is full of messages, subtext, hidden gems, and random oddness, but what else would you expect from Gilliam(who made his name first with the Monty Python group)? I really had a hard time staying with it…that is until the last 30 minutes where I was sucked into the weirdness enough to enjoy the film, it is truly a masterpiece of oddness and if you are looking for abstract inspiration this is your type of film.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is the story of a traveling troupe who sells adventure and mystery when you enter their “Imaginarium”. The leader of this group of misfits is Dr. Parnassus (played wonderfully by Christopher Plummer who is always good). He had once made a deal with the devil (this movie has many biblical undertones…many that I don’t understand) and the devil has come to collect. At the same time his show isn’t doing well and through some luck they run into an amnesic traveler (played well by Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell. and Jude Law) who claims he can increase business and thus help Dr. Parnassus. Beyond that you’re on your own with the plot of this film that is at times too dark and a bit hard to follow (which btw I think is by design), though I will say if you can make until the end, I really feel that you will be satisfied. Lily Cole gives a stand out performance as Valentina who is Dr. Parnassus’s daughter and Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from Austin Powers) gives a sneaky good performance as the Doctors partner and confident. You have to watch the whole film, you have to watch it on a nice TV, and you have to be drunk, high, or on drugs probably to fully understand this film (I was sleepy and I think that helped…but I’m too old and boring for the other stuff), but even if you watch it in a totally normal condition I promise the look of it will draw you in toward the end and in its own odd…really odd way, it will charm you in and I think you will like it.

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) It is a strange film, but an amazing watch in terms of the visual and the story is just good enough to keep you hanging on so I can give it a good 6.0 on the scale. I recommend you watch it while playing Genesis songs in the background…it will be incredible.

May 7, 2010

Movie Review #36 Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 (2010) Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow Directed by Jon Favreau

The summer has snuck up upon me…with the summer comes my favorite season of the year, that’s movie season. It is mostly true that the summer movies generally kind of suck…too much fire and explosions, not enough writing, but even I know better than to have expectations for these films…I just try to enjoy them. Iron Man 2 opens this season and like last year (with Wolverine kicking off the summer) Marvel Comic characters rule again. I always give the first of the summer a free pass (Wolverine Movie Review #5 did I give that a 6.5 ? hmm…that’s a bit much) and Iron Man 2 gets that pass (more like a point a point or two bump really). Though it was not as likable as the first one and still had a bit of a crappy bad guy, it was good enough to go see. I recommend it mostly because it’s the first summer movie of the year, but also because Gary Shandling shows up as Senator.

Iron Man 2 is the continuing story of Billionaire, playboy, and weapons contractor Tony Stark. This time around Mr. Stark has to fight Ivan Vanko (played by Mickey Rourke…sort of well) who is a Russian physicist who Tony’s father used to be involved with. Along for the ride is the lovely Pepper Potts (played fine by Gwyneth Paltrow) and the sneaky Natasha Romanoff (played lazily by Scarlett Johansson) who some of you comic nerds may know by a different name Black Widow. Along the ride we also meet a rival weapons contractor, Justin Hammer (played well by Sam Rockwell) who is there to be the benefactor of Ivan Vanko…because of course they both want Tony Stark dead. To add a little fire power to the mix they throw in Stark’s best friend Lt. Col. Rhodes (who dawns a suit this time around and becomes “War Machine”) and helps out. There is a lot going on in this film, but it’s not as messy as Spiderman 3 was. I still think that Iron Man works not because of the material, but more so because the good actors they use give it a bit of credibility. To tell the truth the only really likable character in the film was Nick Fury (played by the always charismatic Samuel L. Jackson) and maybe a few other cameo characters like John Slattery of Mad Men fame, who shows up as Starks father. I liked Iron Man 2, didn’t love it, but I liked it. Hey it’s the summer time people; let’s go see crap blow up huh?

(The Shawshank Scale 1-10) So Iron Man comes back to fight The Wrestler and privatize world peace…wait was that Gary Shandling as a senator? Now that’s funny…So with the first of the summer bump I can give it a solid 6.5 on the Shawshank Scale and not feel too dirty.

Food For Thought: Downey Jr. has a funny film called Due Date coming later this year, and of course The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes 2, and Iron Man 3 all coming soon as well. Paltrow has a cool sounding thriller co-starring Matt Damon and Jude Law called Contagion coming in 2011 and Sam Rockwell’s next Cowboys & Aliens sounds whack.

May 5, 2010

American Idol Update #11

Harry Connick Jr.was really cool on American Idol this week and that helped me get through a week where my favorite (and my pick to win, Siobhan wasn’t there…though she was great on Letterman). The week overall was pretty lackluster performance-wise, but Connick kept it light and funny. I think it will be pretty boring the rest of the way, with only really Crystal and Lee capable of winning (Just don’t see it Big Mike) so I will try to fight on, but this may be last ride with Idol (3 years not bad).

Top 5-Sinatra week

Best Performance of Top 6 week:

· (1) Lee Dewyze-(That’s Life) I’ve heard better versions, but Lee was fine and in a lackluster week he still shined.

· (2)Aaron Kelly-(In Other Words) I was going to put Michael Lynche in here as he did a fair job, but since I think Aaron Kelly is leaving (even though Casey James sucked) I will give him a shout out. A nice performance of a great classic song.

Worst Performance of Top 5 week:

· (1) Casey James-(Blue Skies) Wow was this awful, I know better than to think he is leaving, but this was really awful…I honestly believe I could do better LOL.

Push for top 5 week (just fine, not great): Crystal Bowerson (Summer Wind) was just ok, a little too soft for a great song and I am annoyed that she talks so much after her performance (as they all do at this stage)…very average. Michael Lynche (The Way You Look Tonight) Great song, good solid performance, but he has a hard time separating himself from the others.

Current Pick to Win: Lee Dewyze-Well maybe it will be a guy after all.

Runner Up: Michael Lynche-I still think there will be a shocker moment when Crystal is eliminated so I’m going Big Mike here…though yes Crystal is much much better.

Prediction-Going Home this week- Aaron Kelly is leaving, but Casey James really should.

***Aaron Kelly goes home as predicted, but he was good and got better in the last few weeks…Harry Connick was good, Lady GaGa showed us her nipple, and we finally saw the fakeness of the show, as they went overall the Tuesday routines (and the awesome fake judges). Really no good downloads this***