Thursday, June 30, 2011

Which is Better?

Daniel Day-Lewis
10 sample films:

My Left Foot
There Will Be Blood
Gangs of New York
In the Name of the Father
The Crucible
Age of Innocence
The Last of the Mohicans
A Room With A View
The Last of the Mohicans


Ralph Fiennes
10 sample films:

Schindler’s List
The Constant Gardner
The Reader
Quiz Show
The English Patient
In Bruges
Strange Days
The Hurt Locker
Red Dragon
The End of the Affair

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments section

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whatever Happened To...?

Sharon Stone

Easily one of the most iconic actresses of the 90’s, Sharon Stone, has been absent from the big screen since 2006. Sure she has been working steadily since then, but most of the films have played the festival circuit and then went straight to DVD. If you really think about it, she has not had a memorable leading role since the 90’s. Most of her best work, post 90’s, has been in minor supporting roles. I know Stone has had her share of forgettable films, but she is too talented of an actress to be stuck in straight-to-DVD purgatory along with several other memorable 90’s actors and actresses. At only 53 years-old Stone still has plenty to offer as an actress if given the right role. In films like Casino, Broken Flowers, and the Quick and the Dead she demonstrated that she was more than just the sex symbol from Basic Instincts. I know Hollywood is notorious for ignoring an actress the minute they reach age 40, but Stone deserves another shot. I would love to see her reboot her career in a Wes Anderson film or even a reunite with director Jim Jarmusch.

Career Highlights: Basic Instinct (1992); Total Recall (1990); The Quick and the Dead (1995); Casino (1995); Bobby(2006); Stardust Memories (1980); Broken Flowers (2005); Action Jackson (1988); Above the Law (1988); Diary of a Hitman (1991); Antz (1998); He Said, She Said (1991); The Last Action Hero (1993); The Mighty (1998); Alpha Dog (2006).

Low Points: Catwoman (2004); Basic Instinct 2 (2006); Sliver (1993); King Solomon’s Mine (1985); Intersection (1994); Sphere (1998); Police Academy 4: Citizen Patrol (1987); Cold Creek Manor (2003); Last Dance (1996); Year of the Gun (1991); The Specialist (1994); Diablolique (1996); Gloria (1999); The Muse (1999).

Last Seen On The Big Screen: Bobby (2006).

Where You Will See Her Next?: Waco with Adrien Brody, Kurt Russell and Giovanni Ribisi.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Superhero Saturation: The comic book takes over the big screen

This summer there are five comic book movies slated to hit the big screen. This line-up comes on the heels of 2010, the year of Iron Man 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Jonah Hex, just to name a few. The comic book film has become its own genre. Just as comedies, dramas and action films are guaranteed fare in theatres every year, so too are comic book films and the genre shows no signs of slowing down.

Comic book films generally start as feature adaptations that spawn at least two sequels. One of those sequels often sets up a spinoff feature film for a particular character or team featured in the original movie. An emerging trend seems to be that if a comic book film is made less than a decade ago chances are good it will be “rebooted” (e.g. Superman Returns and the Spider-Man series), and the process will start all over again.

Comic book films must deal with a unique dichotomy – hold true to the original works on which they are based to live up to the expectations of comic book fans and be adaptations that appeal to moviegoers who don’t read comics.

Perhaps the more popular and mainstream the comic book character, the more successful a feature film based on that character is likely to be. The enduring, pop culture phenoms like Batman, Spider-Man and Superman are well known to many whether fans of the comics or not. These characters have been on the small screen in live action and animated form, as well as on the big screen in several adaptations over many decades. They are familiar and their stories are well known, and maybe that’s why movies like The Dark Knight, Spider-Man and Superman, starring the late Christopher Reeve, garnered great success and are considered good comic book films. Movies about lesser known superheroes like Daredevil, Scott Pilgrim and Jonah Hex suffered dismal showings and recorded disappointing numbers in comparison. On the flip side, Iron Man isn’t considered a well-known superhero, yet Iron Man is among the highest grossing comic book adaptations made thus far. In the case of Iron Man, all of the pieces came together and did so very, very well.

Selling a movie is about far more than capitalizing on popularity and familiarity, of course. So much goes into building buzz and movie studios must be diligent on the business side in order for films to be successful. Good casting, a strong script and great special effects are the ultimate culmination of the entire enterprise. Before the payoff, attention must be paid to delivering strong marketing campaigns that will generate appeal both in domestic and foreign markets to prop up lesser known brands. Last week, the latest comic book movie – Green Lantern – opened to mediocre numbers grossing a mere $53.2 million, a modest start for a movie about a lesser known superhero that cost nearly $300 million to make. Preceding Green Lantern were Thor and X-Men: First Class, which earned decent numbers, but combined have earned less than what Iron Man grossed at the same time three years ago.

Popularity and familiarity might be one reason certain comic book films gross more than other films of the same genre, and perhaps another cause of the mediocrity of certain films is the over saturation of superhero films today. There are just too many comic book film adaptations and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make films that pack as big a punch as The Dark Knight and Iron Man. Those huge successes have fueled the drive in production of comic book cinematic fare to the point of overcrowding the market. It’s the old adage: strike while the iron is hot. Yet, flooding the industry with comic book adaptations has resulted in unremarkable movies falling short and losing face against some of their juggernaut heavy hitting counterparts.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cheers to Clint…no, not Eastwood

You’d know him to see him. His unconventional looks make him instantly recognizable. He’s also director extraordinaire, Ron Howard’s, younger brother, and he’s been a gainfully employed actor in his own right for nearly 50 years. He broke into the biz at age three when he starred in several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, and has been acting steadily ever since.

With ties to a family with a long history in the movie business and in having a large and diverse body of work to his credit, it’s surprising that Clint Howard never achieved leading man status. His career has been defined mostly by character acting and supporting roles in film, 17 of which were directed by his brother, Ron.

Clint Howard’s filmography reads like a movie store shelf. He’s starred in comedies, dramas, action flicks, horror and animated movies, and even romantic comedies. Despite having made tons of good, quality films that achieved huge critical and commercial success, Howard never quite garnered the kind of fame of a marquee movie star. Rather, he carved out a niche for himself as a supporting actor tapped to appear in a variety of genres alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and he’s played his roles well.

In 1998, Howard was awarded the MTV Movie Awards Lifetime Achievement award proving that he and his work hadn’t gone unnoticed after all. Here are a few of Clint Howard’s most memorable films:

Apollo 13
In this adaptation of true events, Howard plays Seymour "Sy" Abraham Liebergot, a NASA flight controller who served during the Apollo program and helped guide Apollo 13 back to Earth.

In this film directed by his brother Ron, Howard plays a morgue attendant who works on the bodies of victims who have perished in violent fires.

Howard plays a worker in a retirement home where a group of elderly residents experience miraculous rejuvenating affects from a group of aliens.

Tango and Cash
Howard has a small role in this action-comedy, starring Sylvester Stallone. Howard plays prison inmate, Slinky, and cellmate to Stallone’s wrongfully convicted cop character, Tango. Howard is perfectly cast as the irritating, whiny character that plays with his slinky toy incessantly, eventually becoming tied up by his beloved toy after Tango gets fed up with him.

The Austin Powers series
In this wildly popular and hilarious franchise, Howard plays a space tracking agent.

In another small role, Howard is cast as a television director of a reality show starring a guy named Ed.

The Waterboy
Howard’s shining moment from The Waterboy can be seen in this clip:

Do you have a favourite Clint Howard role? Let us know in the comments section.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The King of Pain Marathon: 6 hours of Sweet Beautiful RVs

Over the past week my pal, and multiple Lammy award winning blogger, The Mad Hatter has been conducting a The King of Pain blog-a-thon on his site The Dark of the Matinee. The blog-a-thon consist of Hatter diving into his wife’s side of the DVD shelf and subjecting himself to the films in her collection which he deemed painful. Needless to say the merging of their DVD collections will not be occurring anytime soon.

Being the masochist that Hatter is, he has invited his fellow movie bloggers to participate in the The King of Pain blog-a-thon by either delving into their significant others collection or watching some of the same films he had to watch. After asking my wife to pick out three films for me to watch, I was pleasantly surprised to see that her DVD collection actually held several gems. Despite the numerous copies of Dirty Dancing, films such as The Princess Bride, Big Trouble in Little China, Working Girl, Romancing the Stone, and True Lies all graced her collection. Things were looking outstanding until we hit the “donated by others” section of her collection. These are the films that were passed onto her by friends who were not big movie watchers. This is where the “pain” in The King of Pain began…

The Sweetest Thing

The first film on deck was the comedy The Sweetest Thing, a film that I had seen before, which only made it more painful sitting through it a second time around. The film is essentially a poor attempt at a female Farrelly Brothers film. The story focuses on three roommates, Christina (Cameron Diaz), Courtney (Christina Applegate) and Jane (Selma Blair), as they navigate through the complicated waters of the dating scene. Christina in particular has left a trail of broken hearts as she just wants to have fun. Of course this all changes when she meets Peter (Thomas Jane), a man who immediately sees through her façade and calls her out on her fear of commitment.
Comedic hijinks ensue as Christina decides to track Peter down by crashing his brother’s wedding.

Sex and the City, the television show not the movie, proved that women talking frankly about sex can be amusing. Unfortunately, The Sweetest Thing is so concerned with being a gross out style comedy that it forgets to make the three main women actual people. For women who seemingly have everything together except for their love life, the women come off as dimwits instead of sophisticated professional women. The film is filled with jokes about oral sex, jokes about women openly feeling each other’s breast, more oral sex jokes, a clothes changing montage, oh and more oral sex jokes. None of which are funny. The only highlights of the film are Christina Applegate and Jason Bateman, both try their best to overcome the bad script and provide genuinely funny moments but even they can only do so much.


Remember when Barry Sonnenfeld use to make movies that were actually good? Films such as Get Shorty and the first two Addams Family films, yep I miss those days too. RV plays like a 60’s Disney family comedy made 40 years too late. Frustrated that his family no longer interacts the way they use to, Bob (Robin Williams) decides to rent an oversize RV and take his wife (Cheryl Hines), moody daughter Cassie (Joanna Levesque) and weight lifting obsessed son Carl (Josh Hutcherson) on the great American road trip. Besides trying to get his family to bond, Bob also must find time to get important work done for his demanding boss (Will Arnett).

I honestly do not know where to start with this film? RV was, if nothing else, a test of endurance. Despite its scant 99 minute running time, the film felt like it was well over two hours. The film relies heavily on physical comedy and juvenile potty humor. While watching excrement shoot up in the air and cover Robin Williams, may ignite laughter from a five year-old, it does nothing for the rest of us. Which brings me to the main problem with RV, you can predict every single gag well before it happens. The film never deviates from the standard plot formula that has been used in numerous other films of this kind. Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels, and Kristin Chenoweth all deserved to be in better films than this. I understand a paycheck is a paycheck, but they are all too talented slum it in this production.


By far the most painful and infuriating pick of the bunch, actress Sally Field makes her feature film directorial debut with this insipid film about appreciating what is really important in life. Since she was a little girl Mona (Minnie Driver) has been obsessed with beauty pageants. With the help of her seamstress best friend Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams), Mona starts to make strides in the competitions she enters. Just as her pageant career takes off Mona discovers that she is pregnant. To ensure that Mona’s dreams of becoming Miss America stay on track, Ruby secretly agrees to raise Mona’s daughter Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) as her own. Yet when circumstance forces Mona to take care of Vanessa, Mona must not only find a way to keep her hidden from pageant officials, but she also has to figure out how to deal with Vanessa’s constant inquires about why she looks she looks so much like Mona and not Ruby.

What is so insulting about Beautiful is the fact that Mona is a shallow and selfish character for 95% of the film but then is inexplicably praised like a hero by the end. People mistake her act of finally coming to terms with the responsibilities she has been ignoring for seven or so years, as a statement about a woman’s right to be both a mother and a beauty queen. Despite the fact that the story has a “villain”, I would argue that Mona is the true villain of the film. She is neither a likable nor interesting character, and it is hard to feel happy when everything wraps up so conveniently at the end. Frankly, as a male, I found the film insulting so I can only imagine what some women thought of the film. I cannot even look at the DVD cover without getting enraged at the massive pain this film was to sit through.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Which is Better?

Rachel Weisz
10 sample films:

The Mummy
The Constant Gardener
The Shape of Things
Beautiful Creatures
Runaway Jury
The Fountain
About A Boy
Definitely, Maybe
The Lovely Bones


Jennifer Connelly
10 sample films:

House of Sand and Fog
Waking the Dead
Requiem for a Dream
A Beautiful Mind
Dark City
Blood Diamond
Little Children
The Rocketeer

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments section

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Must See List: Have Your Say!

At the beginning of the year I attempted to knock some films off my “Must See List” by selecting five films a month to watch. Needless to say, my plans were derailed by March as other film watching priorities arose. I am now committed to getting my plan back on track but with one twist. Instead of tackling the same never-ending list as before, I have decided to revamp things a little bit.

Below, in no particular order, is a list of films that will make up my new and improved “Must See List”. As you will notice there are 50 blank spots. This is where you movie loving readers come in. I want your help selecting the remaining films. In the comments section, list what films you think are a must for any cinema lover. These can be anything from Academy award winners to zany genre films, big budget blockbuster to a poorly made blaxploitation film, foreign film to...well you get the point. Basically if there is a film you love, that is not already on the list, then I want to hear about it. I will update the list based on your suggestions, assuming I have not already seen the film, each week until the list is filled.

The Must See List

1. Paths of Glory
2. 8 1/2
3. The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
4. Army of Shadows (recommended by Wes22)
5. Sherlock Jr. (recommended by Cinema Sights)
6. Days of Heaven
7. La Haine
8. Carry on Regardless (recommended by Dan)
9. House of Games (recommended by Colin)
10. Bicycle Thieves (aka The Bicycle Thief)
11. The Lion in Winter (recommended by Anna)
12. Reds (recommended by Andrew)
13. Kentucky Fried the Movie
14. Pusher III
15. Snow Cake (recommended by Jess)
16. Boy A (recommended by Squasher88)
17. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (recommended by HKB)
18. Rashomon
19. Audition
20. Suspiria (recommended by Bob)
21. Troll 2 (recommended by Action Flick Chick)
22. A Town Called Panic
23. Inland Empire
24. Sunrise: A Song of Two Human (recommended by Cinema Sights)
25. Branded To Kill (recommended by Bob)
26. Sweet Smell of Success
27. The Battle for Algiers
28. In a Lonely Place (recommended by Anna)
29. Senna (recommended by Andy)
30. Castaway on the Moon (recommended by Adina)
31. Martyrs
32. Vertigo
33. The Tree of Life
34. Beau Travail (recommended by Anna of Split Reel)
35. Beginners (recommended by Sam)
36. Patton (recommended by Andrew)
37. The Brother from Another Planet
38. 12 Angry Men
39. Battleground
40. Head-On (Gegen die Wand) (recommended by Anonymous)
41. The Omega Man (recommended by Richard)
42. Rosetta (recommended by Anonymous)
43. The Room
44. The Outlaw Josey Wales
45. Ichi the Killer
46. The Wind and the Lion (recommended by Richard)
47. Triage (recommended by Phips)
48. Basket Case
49. Double Indemnity
50. Dear Zachary (recommended by Colin)
51. Jules and Jim
52. Wings of Desire
53. Badlands
54. Solaris (original) (recommended by Wes22)
55. The Taming of the Shrew (recommended by Andrew)
56. Too Late for Tears (recommended by Damn Good Movie Show)
57. I Love You Phillip Morris (recommended by Sam)
58. Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis) (recommended by Movie Guy Steve)
59. The Adventures of Tintin
60. Battleship Potemkin
61. Incendies
62. Gun Crazy (recommended by Movie Guy Steve)
63. I Am Cuba (recommended by Bob)
64. Marwencol (recommended by Colin)
65. City Lights (recommended by Cinema Sights)
66. The Passion of Joan of Arc
67. Nashville
68. Judgment at Nuremberg (recommended by Anna)
69. Safety Last! (recommended by Chip Lary)
70. The 400 Blows
71. Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard version)
72. The White Ribbon
73. The Man from Earth (recommended by Chip Lary)
74. Kaboom (recommended by Toby)
75. Children of Huang Shi (recommended by Alan)
76. Alluda Majaka (aka Alluda Mazaaka)
77. The Killing
78. Dance Party, USA (recommended by Toby)
79. The Night of the Hunter (recommended by Rich)
80. Close-Up (recommended by Joel)
81. The Birth of a Nation
82. The Human Centipede
83. Ran
84. Melancholia
85. Vanishing Point (recommended by Paul S)
86. Paris is Burning (recommended by Rich)
87. Two-Lane Backtop (recommended by Paul S)
88. Hands on a Hardbody (recommended by Joel)
89. Le Samouraï
90. Rango
91. Tokyo Gore Police (recommended by CriticalMovieCritics)
92. The Steel Helmet (recommended by Will)
93. Soylent Green
94. Bright Star
95. Werckmeister Harmonies (recommended by Bonjour Tristesse)
96. The Great Train Robbery (recommended by Andrew)
97. The Hidden Fortress
98. I Killed My Mother
99. On the Waterfront
100. Cyclo (recommended by Bonjour Tristesse)
101. The Bitter Tea of General Yen (recommended by Danny)
102. Black Narcissus (recommended by Bob)
103. Murder, My Sweet (recommended by Danny)
104. The Hill (recommended by SDG)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blow Out the Candles: Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep
Born June 22, 1949

Considered by many to be the greatest actress of this generation, Meryl Streep has made over 50 films. Her filmography is incredibly diverse including roles as a real-life union activist, a drug addict, a demanding magazine editor, a nun, and Julia Child, just to name a few.

Streep has achieved greater commercial and critical success with her dramatic films, but her highest grossing film to date came in 2008 when she starred as a single mother uncertain about her daughter’s paternity in the musical-comedy Mamma Mia. This was not the first time Streep strutted her musical chops on screen. In 1990’s Postcards from the Edge, Streep played a recovering drug addict trying to revive her career after rehab, and performed all vocals in the film herself.

One of Streep’s most anomalous roles came in 1989 when she starred opposite Roseanne Barr in She-devil, which marked her first comedic role. Perhaps the only reason to see the film, Streep infused this sub par flick with great comedic timing, showcasing a surprising departure from her usual dramatic fare.

Strange, too, was Streep’s role in Death Becomes Her, a dark comedy co-starring Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis, about two rival women who drink a magic potion and obtain eternal youth. Here, Streep proved just how well she could play wicked.

And no one can don an accent quite like Meryl Streep. Several of her film roles have called for accented characters, the most notable being her Oscar-winning turn as Polish holocaust survivor, Sophie, in Sophie’s Choice. Streep’s Polish accent is authentic and believable and her deeply emotional portrayal of a mother forced to choose between saving her daughter and saving her son is true acting greatness.

In the screen adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County, Streep dons an Italian accent to play a lonely housewife in Iowa who has an affair with a photographic journalist passing through town.

For me, among Streep’s most entertaining films are The River Wild and The Devil Wears Prada. Each film is very different and so too are the characters Streep portrays. In the thriller The River Wild, Streep plays a rafting expert vacationing with her estranged husband and son who are forced at gunpoint to raft two armed robbers on the lam down the river.

In The Devil Wears Prada, Streep is perfectly cast as the ruthless, sharp-tongued Miranda Priestly. Streep is at once reviled for the nasty and callous way she treats her employees, and then garners sympathy when she reveals that her husband is divorcing her and is mournful about her two daughters losing yet another father figure.

Throughout her career, Streep has been richly awarded for her colourful and diverse career, earning the most Academy Award nominations than any other actor with 16. In every film, she becomes the character, fully immersing herself in every role to completely embody the person she is portraying. She is impossible to typecast because she has played so many types.

Streep will turn 62 this year and has proven time and time again that both she and her work only get better with age.

What are your favourite Meryl Streep performances and/or films? Let us know in the comments section.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Green Hornet’s Sting Barely Noticeable.

The Green Hornet

How do you make a Superhero seem great when his sidekick does most of the work? This is the question that latest incarnation of The Green Hornet franchise struggles with and never quite seems to resolve. Now, I have not heard the 1930’s radio show nor did I read any of The Green Hornet comics. Similar to many in my age group, my previous experience with The Green Hornet comes from the short lived television series of the 60’s. Reruns of the show would often air after reruns of the Batman series starring Adam West. The Green Hornet has always seemed like a second rate hero, and the fact that the show borrowed heavily from the Batman series in regards to aesthetics does not help. Another aspect is that Bruce Lee’s Kato overshadowed his boss in almost every episode.

In director Michel Gondry’s updated version The Green Hornet tale, writer and star Seth Rogen tries his best to make The Green Hornet finally standout above his sidekick. The key word is “tries”. The film focuses on Britt Reid (Rogen), the son of a wealthy news paper publisher (Tom Wilkinson), who must take over his father’s empire after his passing. After foiling a robbery with his father’s driver, Kato (Jay Chou), Britt realizes that it is his destiny to help others. Creating The Green Hornet alter-ego, Britt wages a war on crime and inadvertently finds himself the main target of a local crime lord, Benjamin Chudnofsy (Christoph Waltz).

Despite Gondry and Rogen’s best efforts, The Green Hornet still falls victim to the same flaws that hindered its predecessors. Britt Reid is just not that interesting a character, especially in this version where he is portrayed as a low-rent Arthur, a drunken party boy with daddy issues. Jay Chou’s Kato upstages Reid both in the action scenes and the comedic ones. One of the more humorous moments in the film comes when Kato is hitting on Reid’s secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), even though he know Reid is interested in her. Kato is so charming that it is a shame that the film was not centered around his character.

In fact even the villain, Chudnofsky, is far more engaging than the hero. Waltz is starting to rival Mark Strong as Hollywood’s go to bad guy, he is fairly entertaining in this film. The idea of a neurotic villain struggling to find a more menacing persona is amusing. Waltz does his best to bring life to the film, but is stifled by the muddled plot. The film spends so much time trying to establish The Green Hornet as a credible hero that it loses sight of the plot by the halfway point and becomes a farce by the end.

The film tries to keeps the action somewhat grounded as Reid is learning how to be a superhero despite not having superpowers. Yet by the last act any sense of realism is thrown out the window. The Green Hornet and Kato are dodging bullets, driving a car that has been sliced in half, and surviving situations that would be plausible for Kato but not for Reid’s Green Hornet. In the end, it just does not work. Rogen’s need to try and make the film a comedic romp does not work well. It is tough to take The Green Hornet seriously as a hero when it feels like he should be the sidekick instead of the star.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It happened again: Hangover 2 more a remake than a sequel

Movie sequels often pale in comparison to their original counterparts. Few ever offer the same degree of originality, laughter, suspense, or entertainment value as the first films do. Many sequels often come across as trying too hard to capture the original magic, and the impetus for making a sequel can become glaringly transparent as an effort to cash in on the previous success.

The Hangover 2 fits this bill. The first Hangover was chock full of originality, comedic surprise, great characters with great chemistry, and raucous laughs. Watching Phil, Alan and Stu wake up in a trashed hotel room in Las Vegas without a clue about what transpired the night before, and their perfectly executed sense of befuddlement as they try to figure it out, is pure movie magic.

The Hangover 2 plays out the exact same way except that this time, Phil, Alan and Stu wake up in a trashed hotel room in Bangkok without a clue about what happened, and their perfectly executed sense of déjà vu is probably akin to that of moviegoers who recognize the movie because they’ve seen it before. The sequel follows the same formula and suffers because it lacks the element of surprise and unpredictability that made the first film so enjoyable.

What the writers did in the Hangover 2 is recycle the plot of the first film. They changed the locale, introduced a few new secondary characters, and made it raunchier and more over the top, but it’s still all too familiar. And they gave us more Mr. Chow – not, in my opinion, a good thing. His appearance in the first film served to shock and amuse when he leapt out of the back of a car buck naked and onto Phil. In the sequel, his appearance is again meant to shock and amuse, but after the initial shock and brief laugh his appearance affords, Mr. Chow simply becomes annoying.

Almost every element from the first Hangover is refurbished and reused in the second installment. There’s no lion, no baby, and no tasering by police, but there are obvious substitutions for these. In the sequel, the writers simply provide variations on the first film’s most memorable parts.

Perhaps the most disappointing of all is how Zach Galifianakis’ character, Alan, comes across in the second film. In the Hangover, Alan stole the show as the endearing and hilarious oddball brother-in-law. Here, he’s obnoxious, irritating and far less funny.

The common element that is a welcome reoccurrence is the interaction between Phil, Alan and Stu. Seeing these three guys bumble through Bangkok piecing the previous night’s puzzle back together and uncovering some crazy revelations along the way is the lone highlight and why a third installment is more than likely. It’s hard not to want to see what these guys will get up to next time and how they’ll react to it all because it is good for a few laughs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sharing the Blogging Love

Wondering what bloggers have been chatting about this week?

Here is Your Reading and Listening Schedule for Today:

10 am: Episode 214 of the Cinecast podcast discusses Super 8. A film I am dying to see.

11 am: Edgar kicks of his “Shaw Brothers Marathon” with a review of Come Drink With Me.

12 pm: Episode 208 of the Mamo podcast talks X-Men: First Class.

1 pm: Darren has a nice piece on Why Aronofsky was the perfect choice to direct The Wolverine.

2 pm: Chris looks at the brutal, yet beautiful, opening sequence of I Saw the Devil.

3 pm: Anh Khoi Do has news on the film Snow & Ashes finally getting a release date.

4 pm: Emma has a review of the film Direct Contact.

5 pm: Squasher88 gets introduced to the film Peggy Sue Got Married and talks about his favourite scene.

6 pm: Brett and Ty explore Jeff Fahey's work in Lethal Tender.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Which is Better?

Ryan Gosling
10 sample films:

Blue Valentine
Lars and the Real Girl
Half Nelson
The Notebook
The Believer
Remember the Titans
The United States of Leland
All Good Things
Murder by Numbers


Heath Ledger
10 sample films:

Brokeback Mountain
The Dark Knight
10 Things I Hate About You
Monster’s Ball
The Four Feathers
A Knights Tale
The Patriot
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments section

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hop on Pop: 10 Unforgettable Film Dads.

I am not going to lie, Father’s Day snuck up on me this year. I know that it supposed to be an extra special day as it is my first one as a dad but Father’s Day was never something I took much stock in. As my parents divorced when I was really young, Father’s Day was treated as “just another day” in my household. Now that I am a father, I can appreciate the significance of the day though it will take a while before I truly get use to celebrating it. Keeping with the theme of fathers, here are 10 memorable cinematic dads who left their mark.

Pops – House Party
If you have ever been at the receiving end of “the belt”, and lord knows I have, then Pops will hold a special place in your heart. In many ways he is the poster boy for old-school parenting. When his son, Christopher a.k.a “Kid”, sneaks out the home to attend a friend’s house party, Pops is determine to evoke his brand of discipline by any means necessary. Not only is Pops responsible for one of the best comedic endings in movie history, but his actions come from a place of love and not abuse.

Matt Drayton – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Mr. Drayton represents the misguided expectations that often come with parenthood. While he wants the best for his daughter, he has problems shaking the image he has had all her life of what her perfect mate should be. Drayton shows that sometimes fathers have no choice but to adapt to the unexpected changes life often brings.

Earl Partridge – Magnolia
Truthfully, you could substitute any of the fathers from Magnolia in this spot. The film is one of the best examples of why being a good father is so important. Many of the main characters in the film are damaged, emotionally speaking, by the actions of their fathers. Earl Partridge best represents both the irresponsibleness and the remorse that many of the fathers, and the children, in the film struggle with.

Dr. Stephen Fleming – Damage
While I have only been in the father role for about six weeks now, there are a few basic rules to fatherhood that I am aware of:

1. Teach your kids love and respect for others
2. To quote Chris Rock “Try your best to kept your daughter off the (stripper) pole”
3. At no point is it cool to sleep with your son’s fiancée

Clearly Fleming missed the third point as his affair has repercussions that ripple through an entire family.

Bobby - South Central
One of the things that immediately hits you when you become a father is the fact that you are now held accountable for your every action. Children observe everything you do. In Bobby’s case, his son is falling prey to the same gangster life style that caused Bobby to wind up in prison for 10 years.

Lorenzo Anello’s – A Bronx Tale
The thing I like about Lorenzo is his determination to teach his son the importance of values. This proves increasing difficult when the fast money Mafia lifestyle is a tough temptation for his son to resist. Like any father, Lorenzo wants his child to have the best life possible yet is also realistic about the way the world works. To Lorenzo the lessons learned from an honest day’s work is far more valuable than anything the mafia can provide.

Bill Maplewoood – Happiness / Life During Wartime
As a convicted pedophile, Bill Maplewood will not be winning any father of the year awards. So why does he make this particular list? Simply for the fact that he is both an interesting, and chilling, character. In Happiness we see him as a loving father who has a disturbing sickness he cannot seem to control. Then in the sequel, Life During Wartime, we see him as a man who wants to get his family back. While Bill knows that his actions have hurt his family, getting their forgiveness, not to mention confirmation that his son will not turn out like him, is important to him. Are there actions that are not forgivable? Or does the old saying that “family trumps everything” hold true?

Furious Styles – Boyz N the Hood
First off, I have no idea how Furious Styles was left off the best character name list. Regardless, there is no way I can leave him off the unforgettable fathers list. Furious is similar to Lorenzo Anello in the sense that he is very aware of the dangers that lurk in the environment he lives in. When his son Tré comes to live with him, Furious quickly establishes what chores need to be done to teach Tré the importance of responsibility. While his teaching may seem trivial to most, it has a profound effect on Tré in the end.

Daniel Plainview – There Will Be Blood
Plainview’s story is probably the saddest of the bunch. He end up adopting the son, H.W., of one of his dead workers and ends up making him his business partner. Despite raising H.W. as if he was his own son, Plainview foolishly falls prey to a con artist posing as his half-brother, Henry. In his clouded judgment, Plainview takes H.W.’s attempts at protecting him as a sign of jealousy. His decision to send H.W. away ends up being Plainview’s biggest regret by the end of the film.

Tonny – Pusher II
Due in part to the birth of my own son, not to mention the diaper changes and lack of sleep, it took me six weeks to finish the wonderful film Pusher II. For those who have seen the film, Tonny may seem like an odd choice for this list as he only accepts his role as a father at the very end of the film. Yet after spending the entire film trying to please his own father, who refutes him at every turn, Tonny finally decides to get his act together and ensure that his son does not go down the same road he did.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It’s only a movie…it’s only a movie: 7 chilling home invasion films

In remembering Extremities from 1986 in my last post, and in lieu of recent events, I recalled a few other noteworthy home invasion and attacker films.

Desperate Hours

Before he played a wrestler and nemesis to Iron Man, Mickey Rourke played an escaped, psychotic con that breaks into the home of married couple, Anthony Hopkins and Mimi Rogers, to hide from the FBI.

Panic Room

Jodie Foster plays Meg Altman, a woman whose home comes equipped with an unusual feature – a panic room. When three criminals break in during the night, Meg and her daughter lock themselves in the panic room for safety. The trouble is what the criminals want is inside that very room.

Funny Games

This ain’t no comedy, as the title may imply. Rather, this is a dark film about two sadistic home invaders who terrorize a family by forcing them to participate in a series of physically and mentally disturbing games.

Home Alone

Okay, this one may not be chilling but the fact that it spawned Home Alone 3 is enough to make anybody shudder. Kevin, an 8-year-old boy, is left home alone when his family mistakenly leaves on their Christmas vacation without him. Two bumbling thieves played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern discover that Kevin is home alone and decide to rob his house. Kevin learns of their plan and outfits his house with a series of homemade booby traps to thwart them.

The Strangers

A couple staying in a vacation house are terrorized by three masked assailants they cannot escape no matter what they do. While similar to Funny Games, this film offers its own unique brand of chills.

The Last House on the Left

Mari, a teenage girl vacationing with her parents at a lake house is brutally assaulted by a prison escapee. She manages to escape her attacker and return to the lake house, but not before he leaves her for dead, and makes his way to the lake house where he is invited in by Mari’s parents to whether a storm. When Mari’s parents realize what their house guest has done to their daughter, they attempt to get revenge.

I Spit on Your Grave

Jennifer is a writer who escapes to a riverside cabin to concentrate on writing a new book. While there, Jennifer is assaulted by four male locals. Jennifer survives the horrendous attacks and returns to the riverside community to seek revenge on her attackers.