Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Happy-Go-Lucky" review


Conventional movie wisdom states that when a lonely man – regardless of how loathsome, unkempt, or generally unattractive they might be – meets an attractive woman, the two will fall in love by the end of the movie. This logic has appeared in movies like Beauty and the Beast, Edward Scissorhands, plus most of the movies that star Woody Allen and Seth Rogen.

All of this brings us to the British dramedy Happy Go Lucky. Written and directed by Mike Leigh, the movie follows Poppy, played by actress Sally Hawkins, a lovely, effervescent, and seemingly care-free grade school teacher whose only regret when she discovers that someone stole her bicycle is that she didn’t get a chance to bid her bike farewell.

Poppy spends her days hanging with her rowdy party-girl friends while looking for love in what seems to be a world filled with ugly and hateful men. One of these hateful men is Poppy’s driving instructor, a fellow by the name of Scott. Scott seethes with rage, his upper row of teeth is beyond rotten, and even worse than that, he’s something of a white supremacist.

As with the rest of the characters in the film, Poppy is constantly joking with Scott, and even flirts with him, though slightly. And while he has no reasonable way of expressing it, Scott starts to grow feelings for Poppy. Poppy on the other hand, sees Scott as an example of why she should take her job working with children seriously at times, especially when one of her male students begins to lash out with rage. By caring for this student, Poppy meets a social worker named Tim, played by Samuel Rokin.

For the most part, Tim is everything that Scott is not: friendly, caring, conventionally handsome – plus he’s one of the very few British people I know whose teeth will allow him to smile without irony.

There’s no reason why Poppy should love the wretched Scott over the handsome Tim, and fortunately the movie is smart enough to realize this. While the movie certainly feels for Scott, who is caught in the cycle of responding to the unkindness of women by being unkind to them – thus sparking even more unkindness from women – it is simply not Poppy’s responsibility to fix such an unlikable person.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

He's making a list, checking it twice.... (A list of every film I've seen this year).

Ah, top ten lists. It's the one way many a critic can either raise or lower him or herself in my opinion, which is why I take my own very seriously.

So to make sure this year's list is in tip-top shape, I've drafted this list of every movie I've seen this year and broken them down in the categories of "Excellent," meaning the films that will most likely make up my top ten list; "Very Good," or the films that almost made it to my top ten list contention; "Good," which is for the movies I liked but not enough to consider mid-December; "Meh" for films I could do without one way or the other; "Bad," for movies that made a serious blunder or two too many; and "Terrible," for the God-awful films that were made with a total contempt for filmgoing audiences, made me angry, or drained my soul.

If you can think of any movies I should seriously check out (meaning movies that have a shot at cracking my "Excellent" or "Very Good" lists this year, let me know.

The Dark Knight
Let The Right One In
Man on Wire
Rachel Getting Married
Synedoche, New York
Paranoid Park
Snow Angels
The Fall
Kung-Fu Panda
Encounters at the End of the World

Very Good
Shotgun Stories
Slumdog Millionaire
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Then She Found Me
Iron Man
Son of Ranbow
The Wackness
American Teen
Brideshead Revisited
The Dutchess
Pineapple Express
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Burn After Reading

Tropic Thunder
Step Brothers
Lakeview Terrace
Sex Drive
Soul Men
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The Strangers
The Foot Fist Way
You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Just Meh
Quantum of Solace
Sex and the City The Movie
Get Smart
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Mamma Mia!
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Hamlet 2
Eagle Eye
Miracle at St. Anna
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Be Kind, Rewind
Charlie Bartlett
Incredible Hulk
Nim's Island
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden

Death Race
The Visitor
The Secret Life of Bees
What Happens in Vegas
My Blueberry Nights
Run, Fatboy, Run
Baby Mama
Superhero Movie
Drillbit Taylor

The Love Guru
Bangkok Dangerous
Babylon A.D.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Pride and Glory
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Max Payne
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Speed Racer
The Happening
Hell Ride
Ashes of Time Redux

Movies I Want to See, But Haven't Had the Chance
The Wrestler
Revolutionary Road
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Trouble in the Water
Battle in Seattle
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Tale of Despereaux

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The closest thing to a 'Twilight' review that I am ever going to write.


(A publicity photo from the CW's newest hit show, Vampire High.)

1) If, in a later film or book, we find out that like witches, all vampires were made out of wood, that could go a long way towards justifying Robert Pattinson's performance. Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, has no excuse.

2) This seems less like a movie and more like a two-hour pilot for a brand new series on the CW.

3) There is a nasty habit in this film of telling the viewer almost everything about the characters, their supernatural abilites, etc., all while showing us very little.

4) Mike's right, the vampire's dad does look an awful lot like the love child of Tom Cruise and Eric Bana -- if such a thing were possible, that is.

5) This movie is constantly telling us that these characters are SO SEXY, which makes for a very un-sexy movie if you ask me.

6) Someone should have told the movie's vampires that just because your character is supernatural doesn't mean you should act unnatural.

7) These vampires sure are putting a lot of their faith in the secret-keeping abilities of a teenage girl. Not too wise if you ask me.

8) And the award for Worst Visual Effects in a Highly-Awaited Motion Picture goes to.... Seriously, folks. Why did they cheap-out on the vfx? It's not like they spent a ton of money on their no-name cast and obviously Canadian location shoot. At the very least they could have given us something that didn't look like it belongs in a Sci-Fi Channel original movie.

9) Edward the vampire stalks Bella through the night and enjoys watching her sleep. How is this not creepy? To think of all the anti-social behavior this is going to validate for teens. And if you traded Edward the vampire for Crumby the school janitor, we'd be talking about some serious jail time.

10) When Edward Cullen said, "Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin," I said, "Man, these guys talk exactly like all the douchebags I used to know in high school."

11) So let's get this straight, when the sunlight hits a vampire's skin, their skin turns into diamonds? If that was the case, why didn't these guys simply move to a more urban neighborhood? That way, instead of hiding this trait from the public, they could flaunt it while shouting, "We covered in ice, yo! We twinkle and glisten!" I'm sure the B-boy vampire would have no problem with that.

12) In terms of being a movie about vampires, this movie isn't even a pimple on the ass of Let The Right One In.

13) Yes, her movie sucks, but to her credit, Catherine Hardwicke directs better action scenes than Marc Forster does.

14) The movie grows completely disinterested with its human characters as well as a human-like characteristics of its non-human characters.

15) Someone should contact the Nobel Prize people about giving an award to the teacher who taught the mentally retarded people who wrote this film and book how to type. Sure, the end result was way less than satisfying, but with the level of accomplishment these poor retards felt when they were done banging this thing out, I really believe their teachers should be commended.

16) To anyone who ever claimed the Harry Potter books and films were artless, I give you the Twilight series. Sure, J. K. Rowling is not exactly a Salinger or Joyce, but at least she knows a thing or two about telling a story, and the writers and directors who have handled her work have all done a better job than the people who made Twilight. Yes, that even goes for Chris Columbus.


(This is who the movie was made for. If you are not one of these and still liked the movie anyway, I pity you. I really, really do.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[PODCAST] "Rimshot"



On this week’s episode of The Movie Show, Mike outs Joe for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Ernest movies. They also discuss who will be directing Universal’s upcoming movie based on the board game Monopoly; who Will Smith wants to star in his remake of The Karate Kid; and which documentaries will be up for consideration at this year’s Academy Awards. They also review the mediocre Quantum of Solace and the excellent Happy-Go-Lucky.

Or check out our page at the iTunes Store.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trailer Park

With major films Quantum of Solace and Twilight hitting theaters within two weeks of each other, several of the biggest upcoming films for next year got brand new trailers.

Here they are:


Mike disagrees with me, but the first thing I want to say is that this trailer is much, much better than the first one. Syder and company made the wise decision to dump the song the Smashing Pumpkins wrote for Batman and Robin, and more importantly, they reduced all that silly slow motion. For those of you who haven't read the graphic novel, "Watchmen" is a huge, textured story, and there was no way Snyder could cover even a sixth of the book's characterization and plot if every scene was stylishly slowed-down like a music video. Also, this trailer starts to reveal several major points of the story, plus a hint as to what will replace the book's nigh un-filmable 'squid subplot.' While I'm not entirely optimistic about the film not being terrible, I now have a shred of hope - more than I could say for myself even a week ago.

Star Trek

Wow. I knew the film was going to tell the story of a young James Kirk, but had no idea he would be this young. Best part is, it looks as if the characters might actually spend very little time sitting around in the bridge (i.e. the spaceship's living room). I have a friend who has already seen an early cut of this film and can think of few luckier people at this moment.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

More plot, more quiddich, and more characters, but can anything really make us forget the fact that Warner Bros. bumped the film back by over seven months?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008



On this week’s episode, Joe Scott and Mike wonder when Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married will get released in theaters, but not before Mike pokes fun at the sad state of affairs that is children’s entertainment these days.

They also discuss the director of Marvel’s Captain America movie, why the upcoming U.S. remake of Oldboy could be worse than anyone first believed, and Nicole Kidman’s upcoming role as a man who becomes a woman.

This week’s reviews: Soul Men, Role Models, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Stream it! Or subscribe!

Or check out our page at the iTunes Store.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Those who know me personally understand that I don't do Tuesdays.

What I mean by that is if you're trying to meet up with me, schedule an appointment, or hang out, you're better off trying any other day but Tuesdays. Reason being is that on that day, I am always hard at work on The Movie Show.

Faced with the prospect of Election Day, which always takes place on a Tuesday, I tried to cast an early ballot ahead of time at one of the many polling locations readily available across Greensboro. However, because of a tight work schedule, plus the fact early voting seemed to be all the rage this year (thus creating insanely huge lines), I found myself faced with a serious choice this week: If I was going to vote, I would have to do it on Tuesday.

So that's what I did. I woke up at 4:15 a.m., got to work on today's program so I didn't miss any time, got dressed, and made it out to the polls at 5:40 a.m. I was the second person in line. The doors were not opened yet, but luckily, I had brought along a lawn-chair and my laptop so I could continue working on tonight's show.

Here's a pic of me typing away about a potential remake to Conquest of the Planet of the Apes:


It started to drizzle, hence the troubled expression on my face, but the pollsters soon let us move inside around the 6:15 mark. By that time, I had started revising my take on the brilliant Anne Hathaway film Rachel Getting Married:


Oddly enough, I finished most of my radio program work before they even opened up the polls. I was second in line, so before you knew it, I had voted on what is consistently the busiest day of my work week. And if I can take the time needed to vote on a Tuesday, you can too. No excuses folks. I don't care who you're pulling for, if you haven't done so already, get out and vote.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

"Scary Movie Double-Feature": Aftermath (and pics)

I know it's been two days since our Scary Movie Double-Feature, but that was the exact amount of time it took me to recover. The show was cool, the audience rocked, and while there was one major disappointment at the half-way point, everyone had a great time.

For those of you who weren't there, here's what happened:


Mike and I showed up in our costumes. and let me be the first to say that Mike did a great job crafting his Joel Hodges from MST3K costume. Regardless of how many 19-22 year olds thought he was just a Beastie Boy - or even Bob the Builder, who never wore a red Gizmonics jumpsuit that I'm aware of - all the work and time he logged into his costume was definitely worth it.


As for me, I went as Ash from Evil Dead 2. An obvious choice, though not as obvious as say, the Joker, who I would argue has replaced the Crow in terms of the number of people who are going to be dressing up like him this year. My costume was nowhere near as finely crafted as Mike's. I simply bought a blue shirt, a large bottle of fake blood, a toy chain-saw, and a roll of blue painter's tape in order to graft said toy chain-saw over my right hand.


At the 7:05 p.m. mark, there were some worries from theater management that no one besides Mike and I were going to be wearing costumes. I was worried for a minute as well, until I realized that we had five awesome prizes, including Mixed Tape t-shirts, $20-30 dollar gift certificates to various local restaurants, and free movie tickets. If there were no other costume people, Mike and I would have simply cleaned up all the awards, a fact that I was totally cool with until the costumed people suddenly started to show up in droves.


(Sam showed up dressed as Salvador Dali, but I think I might have been one of the only people who appreciated that fact.)

In the end, Over 200 people showed up.


They loved the hell out of The Monster Squad (which was awesome because many people had said they'd never seen it before) plus our insanely cool mix of trailers courtesy of Matt Pennachi. Here are a few highlights:

The Stuff

Teen Wolf


Cool As Ice

(Excuse the digital watermarks. This was the only version of the trailer I could find)

People were having a great time and The Monster Squad got the roaring cheers and audience affection it deserved when it came out. When the credits for the first film started to roll, we were gung-ho and ready to watch Jason hack and slash in 3-D. Little did I know, it would be one of the greatest disappointments of my life.


Old-school 3-D is a fickle thing. Until the late 80's, 3-D films were shot and presented in an over-under process which requires a mirror box to take two images and turn them into a stereo-vision projection which will be converted into 3-D when viewers wear those nifty red and blue glasses.

(An example of an over-under 3-D image)

We had the glasses, we had the mirror box, and we even had a guy who knew how to work the mirror box. But for whatever reason, it simply didn't work out. I would say part of it had to do with the limited amount of light coming out of the projector. The image was too dark to see anything, and the alinement of the two images was way off. I have to shoulder my part of the blame in this, because when the technician said, "We'll be good to go on Thursday night," in retrospect, I should have pushed to make sure everything would be up and running properly BEFORE the audience showed up, regardless of whatever assurances were given to me.

A few people booed, some walked out, but then Carousel director of operations Rob McHone had great idea of taking a digital 2-D copy of the film (i.e. a DVD), and running it through his insanely hi-rez digital projector. I was very anti, because I hate the idea of projecting a DVD. But you know what? The DVD looked great - especially when compared to the dark, old ass film print of the film we had - and the 85% of the people who stayed for the DVD had a great time riffing on the film MST3K-stlye, feigning shock and awe at all the scenes that were obviously shot for 3-D.

In the end, I learned two valuable lessons that night. 1) Never enter a war zone holding two guns until you are completely certain that the second one will work. 2) The only thing better than antiquated 3-D is a killer audience.

Thanks to everyone that attended.