Saturday, April 24, 2010

Basic Instinct (1992)

I had never seen this before. There's no real reason why I had missed it. It was released in 1992, my sophomore year in high school and I certainly would have been interested in it then. Since I am 17 (yikes) years older now its a bit of a different story now. This movie simply tries too hard. This must have been the apex of this sort of sexy murder-mystery that they churned out so much in the late 80's and 90's. Sharon Stone's line, "I like to fuck on cocaine", pretty much sums up the whole movie. I mean, you could say this about most movies I am sure, but this was obviously made with everyone involved with the production hoovering rails. Especially Joe Eszterhas, the writer. Oof. Everything is ratcheted up to 11 here. In a way, its not unenjoyable, but its definitely not good. I had to post the above picture because the sight of Michael Douglas going out to the clubs wearing a v-neck sweater with nothing underneath made me laugh out loud. Also, through no fault of their own, there are like three actors here who went on to have parts in Seinfeld, and, I just have such a hard time taking them seriously. (Much like the movie: ZING!) Particularly Wayne Knight, who would go on to play Newman there. Oh, I will say though, even though it might be hard to pick out the worst performance here (special shout out goes to Michael Douglas' delivery of the line, "Do you think this is some sort of GAME!" You have to see it...) to me has got to to George Dzundza as Michael Douglas' partner, Gus, some sort of country western obsessed goof transplanted to San Francisco. (They have this thing where Douglas calls him "Cowboy", and he keeps calling Douglas, "Hoss").

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kick Ass (2010)

Alan Moore really changed the game as far as superheroes and/or masked crimefighters and/or even science fiction storytelling all those 24 years ago. You can feel that influence in everything from The Incredibles , to parts of Lost to, yes, even Kick Ass. Like my friend Lee said yesterday, its interesting to see where people run with those ideas. Kick Ass is somewhat of a Watchmen in reverse, in this world superheroes do exist in comic books, it just takes one nerd to ask, "Why CAN'T normal people become costumed vigilantes?" While, obviously, not as deep as Watchmen (and I mean the book, not the movie), it's a fun little ride, and sometimes thats enough. I have to admit, to having never read the comic that the movie is based on, so I was going in cold on this one. It's interesting because the ad campaign for this is a bit misleading, its not as overtly wacky as they make it out to be, and its serious while still being ridiculous. I mean it has its overtones, but when I mean, it is about "real-life" costumed superheroes battling what are essentially Italian stereotypes. Special mention must be made of Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, who is just amazing here. Who knew an awesome and bloody battle scene could come between an 11 year old and a crew of hardened mobsters? Well it does.

One thing I did appreciate, was that they were dealing with a ridiculous idea, sometimes with some somewhat serious overtones, and like I said I am not sure this comes from the comic or not. I was glad to see they weren't afraid to go all the way with its craziness and pulpiness. I find too often, shows like Fast Forward and V have these pulpy premises but take themselves too seriously. Kick Ass doesn't, and I kind of appreciate that about it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Date Night (2010)

Tina Fey and Steve Carrell really make this movie better than it has any right to be. Actually the whole cast does, but they do the majority of heavy lifting, being the two stars. But Ray Liotta, William Fichtner, James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Mark Wahlberg are all also good, and they help elevate a script which isn't great. The end credits goof reel shows that I think a lot of the best stuff from Carrell and Fey was ad-libbed. I guess I should be upfront and say that I generally like Tina Fey and Steve Carrell a lot, and they work well as a married couple going through some growing pains, but, in a weird way I like that they resolve it in such a "nice" manner. I know, weird, but if you see the movie you'll know what I mean. There probably isn't though a lot of reason not to just wait until its out on video. Its a fun little romp, and I had a good time, but its not like it sticks with you or anything. I do enjoy these sorts of After Hours/Adventures In Babysitting plots where the suburban outsiders have to deal with a crazy night in the urban jungle or whatever-its an old chesnut but it can work. And it does here, mostly because Carrell and Fey are the couple. They can just make it work, AND they made me laugh. So its not a complete stunner, but its a good time filler if you feel like it. Especially if you happen to be a fan of one or both of Steve Carrell or Tina Fey.

The Children (2008)

I would really like someone with children to watch this movie and tell me what they think. This is a creepy little hidden gem from England. Set in the country, its snowy and chilly, and there seems to be some airborne (possibly its never explained) illness that effects children of a certain age. Its really interesting too how the parents are portrayed initially, very yuppie, semi-crunchy parents: one is trying to teach their child Mandarin Chinese, the other couple decides to homeschool their children, and I dunno, raise them in a yurt. We've all met parents like this. But what then, if for no discernible reason, your young children suddenly start to turn into murderous zombies...what would you do? Thats the central question, which also takes to the next level the idea that in some ways kids, with their imaginary friends and what not, can be sort of creepy. The dinner scene that kicks everything into gear really brings this home. Whether you have kids or not: ever been somewhere for dinner with some children who act up and aren't eating, but the adults try to continue talking, but the kids are misbehaving somehow and there is this sort-of tension as everyone tries to ignore it? Ratchet the ominous foreboding up a little and thats what you have. Its a nice little film that never outstays its welcome: its only about 82 minutes long. And its really creepy. Thanks in no small part to the cinematography of Nanu Segal, it looks amazing. But the direction Tom Shankland is what really hits it home. I've been wanting to see it for a while and it just happened to crop up on "On Demand" in the past week or so.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Gallery of Badassery

I have had these pictures sitting around for a while. I forget what my original intent was with them, they are in a folder entitled simply "Badass". Makes sense. Here is the Gallery of Badassery (or badasses). I am sure I didn't think of some that should be included, its not definitive.

The Gallery Of Badassery

Philip Stone

So, this morning I was just about to clean up around the apartment. I was enjoying an Iced Coffee from Dunkin Donuts (send me money, I can give more plugs!) and I started watching Thunderball and I noticed a familiar face. In the very beginning during the SPECTRE meeting where they man gets electrocuted for coming up short on some money- I saw someone I recognized. Its one of those people I had seen in things I liked before, some things I love, yet I didn't know his name. Turns out his name is Philip Stone, he just passed away in 2003, and he has some 99 credits to his name on It seems most of those are television roles, British television for the most part (his first being on The Avengers in 1961). From there he got some small uncredited roles in some bigger movies such as:

SPECTRE #6 in Thunderball (1965)


another uncredited role in Where Eagles Dare (1968) as the Sky Tram Operator.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture of them.

Interestingly, enough he seems to have caught Stanley Kubrick's fancy in the 70's and appeared in three straight Kubrick movies. The last being what might be his most famous role:

As just "Dad" in A Clockwork Orange (1971) (Alex's Dad)

As Graham in Barry Lyndon (1975)

And what could arguably be his most famous role, the original murderous caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Delbert Grady, in The Shining

Unfortunately, again, I couldn't find a picture for this, but he played Zogi, The High Priest in Flash Gordon (1980).

Lastly, as far as famous films go, he still did a bunch more television, even episode of A Touch Of Frost in 1997, he played a part of the colonial presence in India, Captain Phillip Blumburt in another personal favorite of mine, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Fun Facts: According to IMDB, he was actually the ONLY actor to appear in three successive Stanley Kubrick movies.

He also served in the Royal Air Force in World War 2. Ian Fleming would have approved.