Tag Archives: movies

Cyber Monday

26 Nov

Welcome back to a semi-normal week. A few quick takes: 

1. Skyfall is among the best Bond films, ever. As with the rest of the Daniel Craig series, it’s doing a great version of what the Bourne trilogy was – thrilling and action-packed. You know it’s a Bond film because it’s got an evil genius villain. With Craig, however, Bond isn’t just a pseudo-human. They develop the character and give you backstory. Well done. 

2. I think there are pre-Lincoln people and post-Lincoln people. I saw it yesterday, and it reminded me of Spielberg’s other serious world-crisis-as-biopic, Schindler’s List in a lot of ways. Lincoln is unique in that it revolves very specifically around the political flexibility and machinations Lincoln brought to bear on his fight to get the lame duck 38th Congress to free the slaves. Lincoln saw passage of an emancipation amendment to the Constitution as a necessary path to end the Civil War. His team of rivals didn’t always see eye-to-eye with him.  The legal and political issues and ramifications of the Civil War are not glossed over; not dumbed down. Go see it, if for nothing else the Albany lobbyist comic relief. 

3. A fire erupted in a Bangladeshi sweatshop, killing 124

“The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor,” Mahbub said. “So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building.”

“Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower,” he said.

This is why we have building codes and regulations. 

Bangladesh’s garment factories make clothes for brands including Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour and Tesco.

Hey, did you get any great Black Friday deals on clothes? 

4. Krugman addresses the supposed shortage of skilled workers, on which some businesses blame high unemployment. He raises a different issue: 

So what you really want to ask is why American businesses don’t feel that it’s worth their while to pay enough to attract the workers they say they need.

The US went so far down the phony, make-believe supply side/Reaganomics/trickle-down rabbit hole; we have so thoroughly demonized workers and labor that businesses are now wondering why trained, qualified people aren’t taking jobs at insulting low pay. 

5. Chris Brown is a singer and a horrible person. Never buy anything of his again, ever. 

6. Congratulations to Lake Effect Ice Cream, which announced a move to new digs in Lockport. 

7. The people at City Dining Cards were good enough to send me a copy of their Buffalo-specific “Fridge Phrases” . They make a great Christmas/Hannukah gift for your Buffalo friends and members of the Buffalo diaspora. 

 

The List: 20 Best Guy Movies, Part 1

22 Nov

Last week on Brad Riter’s show, we took the week off from talking about politics, the creeping totalitarian state, Republican douchebags and the ghost of Carl Paladino to talk movies.  Specifically, the 20 or so movies that are essential to being a heterosexual white man in America…since that’s what we are.  I’m pretty sure the list of 20 essential movies for gay or hispanic dudes in America would look a lot different.

Now, the rules we used to make up this list are as follows:

– The movie needs to be near-universally quotable.  If I were to use the line “We’re gonna take it to the mattresses” or “So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.“, most white hetero guys between the ages of 21-45 in the country know what I’m talking about without explanation.

– It needs to be a movie written specifically to appeal to our demographic.  Usually, this means excessive nudity, violence and ethnic or scatological humor.  You won’t find “Hope Floats” on a list like this, unless, of course, you’re name is Tom Schuh and you’re making your own list.

– It was a movie that created or portrayed a shared experience.  It’s a movie we either saw together, rented and watched while drunk/stoned in college, or featured scenes and/or dialogue that reminds us of a time when we were young and/or cool.

– The Re-Watchabaility Index. If you come across any of these movies while channel-surfing, you are inclined to stop, regardless as to how far into the movie it may be.

– Some directors and producers (Scorsese, Tarantino, Apatow) and actors (DeNiro, Pacino, Ferrell) have multiple movies which qualify for the list, but I’ll try (in most cases) to pick their best contribution to the man movie sub-genre.

So, with that said, here’s the list in reverse order.  The order is what’s always debated with lists like this and it seems rather subjective.  If you don’t think these movies qualify, let me know.  We’ll do eight movies today and the rest later this week.

20.  Anchorman – A recent addition to the list, but it’s rising quickly on the man charts.  Anchorman requires multiple viewings to really comprehend its pure excellence.  One of the most quotable movies of the last decade and the apex of the Judd Apatow/Will Ferrell production cabal.  This movie edges out The 40 Year Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights and others, which are all exceedingly quotable and funny, but Anchorman was the best of the set.

Quotable: “You are a smelly pirate hooker“, “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time it works, every time.“, “I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party.

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19.  Rocky III – A controversial choice as Rocky movies are essential to the American experience and determining which is the best is pretty tough.  I mean, most men in America have seen each Rocky film at least a dozen times and this is my choice as the best of the series.  The Rocky theme song gets the blood moving and Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” secondary theme song in Rocky III is epic-level awful/awesome.  This edition of the film series takes us toward B-Movie territory and features the introduction of Mr. T into pop culture.  There is also an incredibly uncomfortable man-hug scene with Rocky and Apollo on Venice Beach which pushes this film over the edge and onto the list.

Quotables: “I pity the fool“, “Eye of the tiger, man

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18. Roadhouse – While we’re in B-Movie territory, why not go to the best B-Movie of the last 20 years, Roadhouse.  It is so exceptionally trainwreck awful that it transcends its own awfulness into awesomeness.  This movie is found on any number of cable channels any day of the year.  You can find it on CMT, VH1, Spike, HBO, TBS, TNT…pretty much any channel that shows movies.  It’s the Ferris Bueller of guy movies…the motorheads, rednecks, dummies, jocks, puffers and dweebs all love it.  Why?  Because of this scene:

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Quotable:  “Pain don’t hurt“, “I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.

17.  Blazing Saddles – A truly subversive film for its time and the best film Mel Brooks ever made.  One of the most quotable films on the list and it features the best fart scene in history.   Takes on issues of race and strippers with speech impediments.  With a review like that, who wouldn’t love it?

Quotable:  “It’s twue, it’s twue“, “Where the white women at?“, “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges“,

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16.  Swingers – If you’re between the ages of 32-38, this movie is yours.  It’s the movie that represents that time right after college when you’re were still trying to figure shit out while going out way too often with your friends.  We were the last group of men to go through post-adolescence without overarching technology and connectedness, this movie captures that time pretty well.  It also launched the careers of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughan who have remained central to the guy movie culture ever since.  The scene when Mikey struggles to leave a message for the girl he met at the bar still makes me uncomfortable, but the Sega hockey scene makes me long for younger, less responsible days.

Quotable:  “Vegas baby! Vegas!“, “You’re so money and you don’t even know it!

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15.  Full Metal Jacket – Kubrick made a few films that belong on this list, but the first hour of this one is essential viewing.  It’s beautifully shot, perfectly written and meets the shared experience/violent/quotable rules.  While the film was meant to portray the dehumanization and brainwashing of boot camp as the military attempts to turn normal people into killing machines as well as the moral ambiguity of war, it is the most universally watched movie if you’re in the military.  I know I watched it at least 100 times while on deployment…

Quotable:  “Five-foot-nine, I didn’t know they stacked shit that high“, “Me so HORNY. Me love you long time

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14.  Reservoir Dogs – The first and best Quentin Tarantino film.  Reservoir Dogs pretty much reinvented screenwriting and movie dialogue, introduced the use of the soundtrack as an additional character and time-shifting as a tool for storytelling.  Tarantino’s film was revolutionary and not only provides some of the best movie lines of the last thirty years, the scenes were unforgettable.  To this day, just hearing “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealer’s Wheel gives me the shakes.  Incredible that such an influential cult classic made a paltry $2.5MM at the box office.

Quotable:  This movie is better known for its monologues than its quotes.  How about the entire ‘Like A Virgin’ monologue from Mr. Brown?

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13.  Caddyshack – This movie gets posted without much comment due to its sheer genius and place in overall pop culture.  It would be higher on the list, but I wanted to close this segment with a strong choice.  Quotable, shared experience, funny, stands the test of time, it’s got it all.

Quotable: “So, I’ve got that going for me, which is nice“, “Be the Ball“, “It’s in the hole!“, “Let’s go, while we’re young!“, “Whoa, did somebody step on a duck?

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The next eight movies will be posted on Wednesday with the final four presented on Friday.

John Hughes

7 Aug

If you spent any of your adolescence between 1980 – 1990, this man’s work meant something to you.

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The Film Test

2 Dec

Via Jason Kottke, the ultimate film personality test.

It’s not strange to disagree about movies that are wildly different, and there are surely a few random movies that are very polarizing. What I find most interesting is which movie people consider the best movie from a particular director, as it is usually very telling and polarizing in a different way, so to this point I will propose a new personality test where you reblog your favorite movie from each of these directors:

  1. Joel Coen: No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Blood Simple, O Brother, Where Art Thou, etc
  2. Wes Anderson: The Darjeeling Limited, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tennenbaums, Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, etc
  3. Hal Ashby: Being There, Coming Home, Shampoo, Harold and Maude, etc
  4. Kevin Smith: Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Dogma, Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Clerks, etc
  5. Quentin Tarantino: Grindhouse, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, etc

Kottke goes on to add a few more directors

6.  Stanley Kubrick: 2001, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Dr. Strangelove, Lolita, etc.
7.  P.T. Anderson: Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia.
8.  Errol Morris: Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War, Mr. Death, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, Gates of Heaven, etc.

And I’ll go ahead and add one more:

9.  Martin Scorsese:  Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, The Departed, etc.

When asked what my favorite movie is, I typically reply with a litany of 15-20 that I feel worthy of mention.  I’ll cite anything from the above directors to other fare that can range from the claustrophobic drama of Das Boot to the sublime humor of Blazing Saddles to the beautifully constructed science fiction of Blade Runner.  There really isn’t a right answer.  It’s more revealing to discuss the finest work of our greatest directors, which is why I like this idea so much.

For the record, I’m a RRCCRFMFD (Raising Arizona, Rushmore, Coming Home, Chasing Amy, Reservoir Dogs, Full Metal Jacket, Magnolia, The Fog of War, The Departed) kinda guy.

What about you?

Award-Winning Short Movie Shot Entirely on a Cell Phone

4 Oct

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Judges including Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup attended and decided on the winner of the Citi Filmmaker Award – including a cash prize of $20,000. The Tropfest NY 2008 winner, Mankind Is No Island by Jason van Genderen…was shot entirely on a cell phone with a budget of $57.

Guess I'll Skip "The Love Guru"

20 Jun

The Love Guru just might be one of the worst movies ever, apparently. I thought that the Buffalo News’ Jeff Simon must have had a wonderful time writing this:

It’s crude, crass, stupid and ugly to look at, besides. Not only that, it sounded awful and its mother dressed it funny.

Myers plays Guru Pitka, a freelance, mass-market spiritual adviser who’s sick of being No. 2 to Deepak Chopra. Why can’t he get the Oprah gigs? His chance comes when a black hockey star with the Toronto Maple Leafs loses his wife to the goalie of the Los Angeles Kings, a moron with a prodigious sexual endowment that is a legend in the NHL. He’s played by Justin Timberlake, only one of many willing people hoodwinked into being in this rubbish.

The Leafs owner calls in Pitka to cure the team’s star player of his nerves. Buffalo’s recent run of bad luck at the movies (see “Evan Almighty”) continues here when we learn that the hockey player’s mother in “The Love Guru” leads a church choir on a mythical “Tonawanda Street” in Buffalo. (Myers obviously thought “Tonawanda” a funny sounding word, which I suppose it is.)

The cliche about movies like this is that they’re six-minute “Saturday Night Live” skits stretched out to 90 minutes. The truth about this crude and painfully awful innocent torture (the opposite of a guilty pleasure) is that its thin premise wouldn’t have made much of a six-minute bit on SNL either. It’s too specialized and all the professional comedy and vulgarity in the world couldn’t, in the immortal line from the movie “Nothing Sacred,” reach down into the mire and lift it up into the depths of perdition.

Here, nevertheless, is a list of people besides Timberlake who either have major parts or cameos in “The Love Guru”: Jessica Alba, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Simpson, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Verne Troyer, Val Kilmer, Celine Dion (by voice) and Mariska Hargitay (whose name provides one of the movie’s few smirkworthy jokes, whereupon it is run into the ground).

Remember every one of those names. Optimistic, generous, big-hearted people, all. And all hoping to do a good friendly turn for Myers in a wacky summertime comedy. None of them deserved the result.

Next time you see one of them doing something you’re not mad about, give them a pass. Be as generous to them as they were to Myers here.

They earned some kindness for being associated with “The Love Guru.”

The New York Times:

Which might sum up “The Love Guru” in its entirety but only at the risk of grievously understating the movie’s awfulness. A whole new vocabulary seems to be required. To say that the movie is not funny is merely to affirm the obvious. The word “unfunny” surely applies to Mr. Myers’s obnoxious attempts to find mirth in physical and cultural differences but does not quite capture the strenuous unpleasantness of his performance. No, “The Love Guru” is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.

Filmcritic.com:

Somewhere, sitting in a room cluttered with Mr. Pibb cans and half-consumed bags of Funyuns is the adolescent writing staff responsible for The Love Guru.

Ebert:

Myers has made some funny movies, but this film could have been written on toilet walls by callow adolescents. Every reference to a human sex organ or process of defecation is not automatically funny simply because it is naughty, but Myers seems to labor under that delusion. He acts as if he’s getting away with something, but in fact all he’s getting away with is selling tickets to a dreary experience.