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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Katniss Everdeen is lucky! "Bowling for Columbine" Review.


Let me first say that I don’t watch documentaries. They go against my belief of what a movie should be. That’s not to say that documentaries are bad, or that I advocate against them, it’s just that I value entertainment more than anything when it comes to movies and documentaries fail miserably to entertain because they are not even trying to, they are trying to inform you. That being said, I have watched a few docs here and there and I can appreciate when a good one comes a long even if I don’t enjoy it myself.

We all remember back when “The Dark Knight Rises” was coming out and everyone was so excited about it and then… All it takes is one person with a disturbed mind to destroy lives and make people live in fear. Then there was the Sandy Hook massacre. I keep thinking of the parents that had to open their child’s Christmas presents. I know that both incidents were terrible but for obvious reasons the Batman shooting in Colorado hits a little closer to home. What could we have done to stop them? Should we have taken away every gun from everyone? Should we have given guns to the teachers of Sandy Hook? Should we have made ushers at movie theaters carry special “Regal” AK-47s? I won’t even pretend to know what the correct answer is but I do know what my beliefs are. Before I give my opinion however I think what Michael Moore has to say on the matter is very interesting.

“Bowling” doesn’t exactly solve much with its commentary on gun ownership and massacres but it is a great study on some of the minds working to defend each side of the argument. For example there is a sequence in the film that shows many people trying to ponder the reason behind the shooting in Columbine, and how they had the balls to come up with an answer as ridiculous and facepalm worthy as Marilyn Manson, who makes an appearance in the film and makes a good point about influence “…the president is shooting bombs overseas, yet I’m a bad guy because I sing some rock and roll songs. And who is the bigger influence; the president or Marilyn Manson? I’d like to think me, but I’m going to go with the president.” If you think about it he is right on more than one level. Why don’t Americans care if people in other countries die but when a US citizen gets shot, their face is on your television for weeks?

Another big figure that makes an appearance in the film is the great actor Charlton Heston. Sure he is a magnificent actor but president of the NRA? I get that there are people who defend our right to own guns as stated in the U.S Constitution, but when people are so fascinated by guns that they want them for more than protecting their home and hunting, that’s where I call bullshit. A while ago I went to a shooting range where they have trapshooting to look for a job, and the place gave me the creeps. The place was repugnant; I went to the bathroom and I couldn’t tell if I was pissing in the sink or the urinal. And then everywhere I looked there was a guy cradling a gun like it was their dick. Not to mention the possibility that if I bumped into someone it could have been the exact moment where he decided that he had had enough and it was time to blast my head off.

Sure not everyone who owns a gun is like that, hell most people who own a gun I would say are ok but like I said before, it only takes one guy. Im I saying that I oppose guns? No, in fact we need guns; otherwise what are we supposed to hunt with, bows and arrows? We are not all like Katniss Everdeen. Im not saying anything really because the bottom line is, what is the two cents of a 21 year old white American film blogger going to do in the end?

Michael Moore whether you like him or not can make a very good documentary. He knows how to stage interviews, how to edit his information together, and how to show exactly what needs to be shown, but I still can’t enjoy him no matter how good he is because after all he is just a documentary filmmaker.

7/10

Where do you stand on gun control? Tell me in the comments below. Also don’t forget to vote for the Star Wars contest I am part of. Remember the poll closes June 9th. Click here to read my article and here for Tom’s.

Monday, May 27, 2013

"What we have here is a character on a stick" "Cool Hand Luke" Review.


What makes “Cool Hand Luke” such a special film? It is its relaxed tone, and friendly and inviting characters that you would welcome home. Sure they are criminals but what the heck, it’s not like they are murderers. That’s what separates “Luke” from other prison films, it’s not about violent criminals struggling to survive with life in the slammer, having to fear the showers; it’s just a bunch of friends hanging out in a minimum security facility because they fell on the wrong side as they were tap-dancing on the fine line between legal and illegal.

Paul Newman plays Luke, a guy who gets drunk one night and vandalizes city property; I say vandalizes but really all he does is cut the heads of some parking meters, and you know what? Screw parking meters. Anyway he ends up in a Florida prison, where he is given the nickname Cool Hand Luke after winning a game of poker with a cool hand (a bluff).

Newman makes acting seem so easy, and this isn’t even my favorite movie of his. There are a lot of heartthrob actors that I just don’t see the attraction to. But I can really understand the women being all over Paul. He exerts so much manhood through puppy dog eyes and a baby’s smile. In short he looks pretty damn awesome, and the way I see it, Luke is playing Paul, not Paul Luke.

Luke as a character is so much fun to witness. He is one of those characters you wish was your real life friend. One great scene showing the greatness of Luke as a character has him take a bet involving 100 eggs. The scene is easily the most memorable in the movie and I loved it even though it is a bit impossible to happen in real life.

The success of this film lies solely with Luke’s character and the actor who plays him, which is why this film isn’t excellent. I loved Luke and Paul, I really did, but other than that there wasn’t that much more to like. Thankfully the story is all about Luke so it succeeds on that point, but I can’t say I cared much about any of the other characters however colorful they were. Perhaps though if they focused a little more on the others instead of Luke, the protagonist would stop being so interesting. A lot of the scenes aren’t that memorable either. Aside from 2 or 3 of them the film just pushes through each scene like a woman going through contractions before giving birth. I’m not saying it’s a bad film, I’m not saying that at all. All Im saying is that during a lot of the movie, the only thing that keeps you interested is the great character that is Luke. Imagine the first chapter of a novel; imagine it is all about describing the main character in detail, and you are anxious to get to the story and then when you are finally done, you find out that there are no more chapters to the novel, and that is “Cool Hand Luke”: A well made description of a character with nothing else in it.

I still liked the movie quite a bit. You can do a lot worse as far as character dramas go and you definitely cannot pick a better actor to play the main character. If this movie doesn’t at least keep you stuck to your TV for 2 hours then we have a failure to communicate.

8/10

Remember my Star Wars contest is still going on. Read both of our stories and then vote because June 9th is the last day to vote. Read my version here and read Tom’s version here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Films with Friends" Star Wars Contest!!!


OK so what is this Star Wars contest all about? Well it’s more than just a contest; it is the beginning of a new chapter in my blogging life. In addition to this blog I am now going to be one of the authors of a new blog called “Films with Friends”. I started it with fellow blogger Thomas, author of The Oscar Buzz and Optigrab. In order to start of strongly we decided to both write articles about the upcoming Star Wars movie and include a brief plot summary of our ideal version. Now one of the stories is a lot briefer than the other but whichever one you like better must be accounted for. We have included a poll at the end of both of the posts to see which one is best according to the readers. It’s fun to think about being in a competition and I can’t wait for the results. Make sure to start reading from the very first post to explain the competition since we couldn't wait to start off. Click here to go to the first post.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Who let Robert do Animation? "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Review


When people hate on movies like “Avatar” or “Independence Day” the main attack they have against it is that the special effects might be good but the rest is garbage. I tend to laugh at people like that because it seems like those people have this animosity towards special effects movies and automatically assume that it is bad without really judging it fairly. Those people also tend to think that the reason why people like those movies is because of all the effects and today I am going to have to be one of those people.

I tried. I really tried to like “Roger Rabbit” but I just couldn't get past the fact that it took itself too seriously. Does that really spoil the film? I say yes because everyone is acting like cartoons in a film that has a darker plot and grim characters.

Bob Hoskins I think can be a great actor given the right roles but in this film he just overacts in order to match the energy of the animated characters, something futile for anyone other than probably Jim Carey. The rest of the acting is not perfect either. Everything is centered on the special effects that make the toons interact with the humans.

It’s not a terrible film; it has plenty to like in it, like some of the humor that comes out of the animated characters. A particularly amusing and yet truthful line spoken mentions that cartoon characters can anything they want as long as it is funny. Just like Wild E Coyote can get an anvil anytime he wants as long as it ends up landing on his head, preferable squishing him down to a hairy pancake.

It is pretty convincing in putting the cartoons next to actors and most of it is welcome. But as I said before what really destroys the film is its unrelenting attitude. Robert Zemekis is a great director, but animation just isn’t his thing. He has done so many creepy animated movies like this one, “The Polar Express”, and “Beowulf” to name a few, but most of his live action films are home runs.

Don’t skip this movie as it is worth a watch, but don’t expect too much of it because now that the effects are dated there is not as much holding it together as it seemed when it was released in 1988.

6/10

Tell me what is your favorite movie that blends animation with live action? I myself prefer “Space Jam” as it succeeds at not only being a comedy but a good sports movie as well. Let me know.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Star Wars without the stars or the wars. "The Clone Wars" Review.

Where to begin? Back in 1977 “Star Wars” came out, and it happens to be 3rd on my all time favorite movies list. How did we get from a perfect movie that succeeds in every way, to a movie that fails in every way?

Normally I would tell you the plot here but I’m not going to bother, because there really isn’t one; only something about Jabba the Hutt’s son who looks like giant snot. This is the film that shouldn’t have been. What I mean is that there are plenty of films that people wish didn’t exist but this one was actually not even intended to be a movie, it was a TV show pilot. It’s bad enough that the TV show it was starting was terrible, but take a terrible pilot, stretch it out to feature length, and stick it on the big screen, is just plain insulting to us who have watched and loved the “Star Wars” saga.

Do I like the prequels? Yes and No. I don’t like “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones” but I sort of like “Revenge of the Sith”. Now are “Phantom” and “Attack” horrible? No they are just under my threshold for a good movie. What saved them was, some thrilling action packed scenes (however useless they might have been), some great creature and robot design from Lucas Arts, and ofcourse John Williams brilliant score, none of which were in “The Clone Wars”.

The animation is so clumpy it looks like claymation except without the haunting realism that it possesses. The voice acting is pointlessly driven to imitate the actors from the live action movies which makes it even worse when all of them fail.

The prequels were disappointing in their own right, but “The Clone Wars” makes “The Phantom Menace” look like “The Empire Strikes Back”. Why does this movie exist though? I mean beyond the obvious answer “Money” why would anyone make a film like this? Is there no other answer than financial gain? If that is the case though Im surprised George Lucas had enough soul left to sell to make this movie after making the prequels. Thank God though that Disney bought it back for 4 billion dollars, because that is apparently what a soul goes for these days.

Anyway I digress. This movie is beyond redemption. There is not much to say about it either; the plot is bad the voice acting is bad, the music is bad, the animation is bad… you get the idea.

1/10

Alright the reason I reviewed “The Clone Wars” is because soon I am going to be part of a contest. A “Star Wars” related contest. Don’t miss it. Its coming very soon! I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Tribute to Roger Ebert.


I may have not always agreed with him, I may have always thought that he was a bit full of himself; I may have thought that he favored dramas and indulgent 3 hour history movies over fun action packed movies but he was my favorite film critic and without him I wouldn't have a blog.

Roger Ebert shaped the way film criticism works today. Before him people would ask each other if they liked a movie or not and get a yes or no answer, but him and his partner Gene Siskel made talking in depth about movies cool. He made film criticism a respectable branch of journalism at a time when people thought of movie lovers as nothing more than couch potatoes. Of course today there is still that notion of laziness attached to those who watch movies all the time but at least because of Roger we film critics can defend ourselves.

All over the internet, film criticism is becoming more popular, with countless movie reviewers on youtube, all being respected by their viewers, myriads of blogs just like mine each devoted to a different field of cinema, and even shows like RiffTrax, all being influenced by the man that started it all.

He had a long and painful battle with cancer during which he had to have his bottom jaw removed. It was truly sad to watch him in that state as the prosthetic he used made him look very sick. He lost his ability to speak, he lost the ability to eat or drink, but he never lost his ability to be a film critic, and thank God for that. He still continued to do what his heart desired to do even at his state and his age.

I am happy to have lived during a time when he was alive and still posting reviews, because I rarely watched a new movie without reading his review. Like I said before, I think his taste was a bit questionable, and I never based my intention to see a movie based on his opinion but I always respected what he had to say of a film and I am honored to have been part of his staff of admirers.

Long Live the King

Roger Ebert









1942-2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Lord of the Rings" Part 3. "Return of the King" Review.

There is no reason to explain why I am apologizing to all my loyal readers (both of them) but nevertheless an apology is due. My last review said that the next should be out in about 24 hours, and you have now have to wait for about 24 weeks. Don’t be too hard on me, I am guilty of being that kind of person who can do stuff like that but I swear my heart is still very much in the movies. So here is the long awaited part 3 of my “Lord of the Rings” review.

“Return of the King” is a movie so dense, that even at a running time of over 4 hours we feel that there was more to the story that wasn't told. It is certainly the best in the trilogy but as I said before these 3 movies are best considered one very long movie that has been split into 3, a bit like when a DVD comes in 2 discs.

There is not much more to add to this movie that hasn't been said in the previous 2 except that the story finally reaches its climax and everything gets resolved. The ending leaves you with a lump in your throat and this blogger even had a mild depression after watching it for the first time. You see when the film ends you finally enter back into the real world, and after spending about 9 hours in middle earth, the world with all its flaws and your life with all the stress and responsibilities both seem too much to bear.

The special effects are just as good as the 2 other films and everything works perfectly filmmaking wise. I rarely use this term but I think the “Lord of the Rings” is a flawless film. There are only a handful of movies that I believe to be flawless and this is one of them. I came to that decision the last time I saw the films again a few weeks ago and I think it is a decision I had been meaning to make for years, but I just didn’t have the balls to. You see it’s easy to say that films like “The Godfather” “Citizen Kane” “Gone with the Wind” or “Casablanca” are perfect but in the eyes of today’s critics you get people who are not willing to accept that a movie that has come out in the past decade deserves to stand among giants. Anyone who is reading this, I dare you to go to your oldest living relative and try to teach them how to use your cell phone. Chances are that not only they won’t be able to use it but they will get mad at it after a few minutes. You know how good of a device it is but nothing is going to convince grandma that her old rotary phone is the best thing technology has to offer.

The reason why I think this movie deserved to be compared to the classics I mentioned is that it is probably the biggest movie ever made, and I am not talking about length, I am talking about scale. There is so much going on, filled with so many things, characters, events, themes, adventures, that it overwhelms anyone who watches it, and that’s whether they like it or not.

I remember when I was a kid and this movie was out I didn’t want to see it. It seemed way too dark for me especially compared to the other more child friendly fantasy movie series to come out during the same time “Harry Potter”. I tried to watch it a few times but I always stopped watching about half way through “Fellowship” it all just seemed way too complex for me and I couldn't understand. It took me to get to age 18 to finally watch the entire trilogy, and when that happened something changed in me. I realized what a film is capable of. This film is certainly not for children, I remember most of the stuff zoomed right over my head when I tried to watch it as a kid and when I finally started to understand a bit of it at age 15 I still felt confused by its adult presentation.

This is a movie for the ages. It remains one of my favorites and it won’t be knocked off there for a long long time I fear because I don’t believe that there is anyone willing or even able to make a film of this magnitude within my lifetime.

10/10

Tell me. Do you think newer movies deserve to stand among other giants like "Citizen Kane", or "The Godfather"?
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