'Sunshine Cleaning', Emily Blunt & Indie Comedy

Ah yes, a new indie with eccentricities and familial dysfunction. To tell you the truth I'm not big on these anymore, I used to and -if the recent Away We Go is any indication- it's a dying breed. I didn't like Juno with it's self importance and ego trip courtesy of writer 'extraordinaire' Diablo Cody. These are 'Sundance Proofed' films, all debuting at the fest and then picked up by a distributor that believes in the buzz. The rare time the buzz was actually real and deserving was Little Miss Sunshine- a great movie. Now here comes Sunshine Cleaning, a heartfelt but ultimately maudlin attempt at the Indie comedy. Two down and out of luck sisters get into the 'crime scene clean up business' and in the process find cliche after cliche after cliche and ultimately learn to live with each other, blah blah blah. The only thing that works here is Emily Blunt.

I remember watching Blunt's first film -My Summer Of Love- 5 years ago and was stunned by the girl. She played a spoiled teen falling in love with another girl during a boring and humid English summer. The movie is so small and so slight that it came and went but it's totally worth a rental- just for the fact that she actually shows her tits and has girl on girl action with the equally mesmerizing Natalie Press. It's a brilliant performance and a film totally influenced by the french new wave of the 60's- there's a bit of Goadrd and a bit of Bunuel. I completely forgot about it, till it was shown again on cable TV a few weeks ago. She's an actress to watch- a mesmerizer waiting for the right role to catapult her into the stars, My Summer Of Love is only the tip of the icing.

Academy unleashes 10

There will be no 5 Oscar contenders this coming year, instead they have raised the stakes and made it a field of 10. Shocking news ? somewhat, but remember last year the academy completely dropped the ball by NOT nominating Wall E and The Dark Knight- two very fine mainstream movies made by competent directors. unworthy fare such as The Reader, Benjamin Button and Frost Nixon were instead nominated and the academy was the joke of the town. Even worse, ratings were down. No Dark Knight, No viewers. Question is, will there even be 10 worthy films in this -so far- mediocre year? Forget about the Oscars for a sec, I'm more inclined to follow the annual New York film critics awards which nominates and rewards the worthy filmmakers, writers and actors + you don't have to watch it for 3 long hours- results get posted on their web site the very second they are announced. Sure beats Oscar.

Has there ever been a more devastating loss in the music industry than Michael Jackson's death? Artists like Michael Jackson come far and few. There was Elvis Presley, John Lennon and now The King Of Pop. I can still remember listening to Thriller for the first time -not a bad tune on an album full of great ones, Heal The World at summer camp, You Are Not Alone on Top 40 radio. He defined what a musician can and cannot do and then broke the barriers with everything he was gonna do next. Forget about the controversy and think of the talent. Remember the moves, forget the accusing. Remember the songs, forget the wrongs. He was one of a kind and no matter how many imitators, there is only one innovator.

Suffice to say Farrah Fawcett's untimely death was completely overshadowed last night by The King Of Pop. She didn't have much of a film career and was most notably known for her role on Charlie's Angels and in an Iconic 70's poster but I'm reminded of a woman that fought the battle hard and long. She was brave, courageous and undeniably strong in documenting her long, arduous battle with Anal Cancer. So much so that she agreed to air it as a documentary on ABC just a month ago. If her film career had always fizzled, I'm reminded of one of her last roles in the late Robert Altman's Dr. T And The Women. She only shares the screen for but a few minutes but it's a comic and silly thing to see her dancing naked in a shopping mall- long after she's gone and the main characters settle in, her presence is still deeply felt in the film.

'Bloody remake'

I'm a self proclaimed 'Coen-head'. There's nothing wrong in admitting it, Joel and Ethan Coen have created some of the greatest movies of the past 3 decades. Now here comes news that completely stunned me. Renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou is remaking their classic Blood Simple in his own language- renaming it San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi (The Stunning Case of the Three Gun Shots) I'm so used to seeing Americans remaking Asian Cinema (The Ring, The Grudge, The Eye) that it's astonishing to see a great Asian filmmaker remaking an American film. That's why I'm somewhat mixed with this idea of a remake, why mess around with something that's already great ? or it could just be total ignorance on my part and this turns out to be highly watchable.

This is where the Coen Brothers' journey in cinema started, it is their first and most horrifying film. In fact, I'd go as far to say that it's almost as good as their future masterworks No Country For Old Men and Fargo. There are many influences here, including french cinema and also -quite heavily-film noir from the 40's. Not many people have seen it, which is a shame and is a perfect opportunity for you to get your ass to the video store and rent the director's cut of this incredible 1984 film noir. Tout de suite !

'Too weird to live and Too rare to die'

"We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, laughers, screamers... Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls."

Watching Fear and Loathing with a buddy a few days ago got me thinking. Have I ever seen the film sober? It's just that kind of movie, a hallucinogen all in itself and a film some folks can only GET if under the influence of something. I do believe it's a great movie and what director Terry Gilliam has done is absolutely brilliant. It's become a cult classic- a movie perfectly suited for the midnight crowd. It's Gilliam's most misunderstood picture and is -to this day- still highly snubbed by te mainstream. "I want it to be seen as one of the great movies of all time, and one of the most hated movies of all time" exclaimed Gilliam before the film's release. It's definitely not a perfect film- in fact it's quite messy and has no real structure, but there's ambition in that statement and it's that same ambition that makes me like it.

Depp plays Gonzo Journalist Hunter S. Thompson, whom in 1970- as the Vietnam war was headed to its prime- went on a road trip to Nevada with his Attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta. Thompson was supposed to cover a motorcycle race and bring back a 500 word piece with mostly photographs- instead he goes to Vegas with Acosta and uses every possible drug known to man. Trippy doesn't even begin to describe the film- it's more than that, it's a document of a time far gone and a surreality that most of us will never get to. It's a social document of a time when America was it's worst and was assaulted with paranoia by its government- still sounds relevant to this day.


Finally my thoughts on Pixar's latest. It's one hell of an imaginative romp and touching as hell. There's a montage scene near the beginning that's as good as any montage scene I've ever seen the last decade. It's become quite redundant to say that -yes !- pixar has created yet another terrific film, so much so that you wish they would just cough up a bad one. Glenn Kenny said it best in his review a few weeks ago-

"I'm almost reminded—and this is gonna sound weird, but bear with me—of a certain period in the career of the reliably dyspeptic post-punk band The Fall, whose run of albums from the early '80s to 1990 was so staggering that by, say, 1985's This Nation's Saving Grace, one ceased to be quite so staggered."

It's a perfect description of what's happening with Pixar this decade. If movies are on a total downfall, the animation these wizards are creating is at an all time high -yes, even better than Disney in the 40's and 50's. With Up they've managed to have an 80 year old geriatric as a hero and a 10 year old boyscout as his accomplice. They've managed to sneak in hilarious talking- collared dogs, a weird lookin' colorful bird, a helium flown balloon house and one mesmerizing action sequence after another. My praise cannot be high enough and although there's that customary happy ending that you expect, that also feels right.

So what's the best Pixar movie this decade? I personally cannot choose. Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL-E, Cars and Ratatouille have all become classics and exhort a powerful hold on me. The weakest one -Monsters Inc.- is still an indelibly made romp. Up next is Toy Story 3 and I highly doubt that one will be a failure. The last 10 years of film have been dominated by pixar animation, the next decade looks to be the same.

Image Of The Day 6/22/09

First still from Tim Burton's Upcoming Alice In Wonderland remake with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. It's Burton's first film since the fabulous Sweeny Todd 2 years ago, this movie is due out in 2010. Thanks to USA Today for the image.

The 'Reh-tard' world according to Zacharias

If you've seen The Hangover you know Zach Galafanakis steals the show. His 'slacker' attitude and bulging gut invade the screen, literally. Here's a man that's as crazy and eccentric in real life as the character he portrays onscreen. Forget about his co-stars, he IS the show and I wouldn't mind watching him in more movies to come. His comedy is very raw and very strange. As you stare at him doing his shtick, you tend to think there is something very wrong with this man yet he has a likeablility that rivals some of his best peers. He is both a genius and a complete outcast. It's a shame I've just found out about him recently, supposedly he's a pretty big thing in the underground comedy scene. The Hangover is his breakthrough film and the reason why I recommend it. Two scenes come to mind: 1) the 'stun gun scene' and 2) The end credits- in which an intoxicated Zach gets blown by Granny in an elevator. Remember it's pronounced 'reh-tard'.

Interesting thoughts

Here's an interesting analysis from film critic Glenn Kenny. He basically says that there are two people in this world, the Barry lyndon crowd and the Forrest Gump crowd. Lyndon's view of the world is a very 'clear eyed, caustic, ironical perespective on the human condition' whereas Gump has a 'sentimental, putatively open hearted perspective on the human condition'. Consider me with the Lyndon crowd and I'm sure in the years to come Gump will be replaced by the Button crowd, a film ironically written by the same writer as Gump -Eric Roth- and representing the exact same sentimentality and open heartedness.

Untitled Michael Moore Doc

Oh boy. He's at it again. No matter how annoying or redundant he may be, he always seems to entertain and pick a relevant cause. This time it's banks and their shameful actions towards the economy. I've never been a big fan of his, I thought Sicko was overwrought and Fahrenheit 9/11 wasn't as good as it could have been but Bowling For Columbine is still an astounding document of bush wacked America. No footage is shown on the link below just a small preview/intro from the man himself.

A Few thoughts

It's called Coraline and it's Henry Selick's new animated film and -although I'm somewhat late to review it- I want to give my thoughts about the screening I attended a few weeks ago. Selick did the remarkable Nightmare Before Christmas 16 years ago and I highly doubt this one will join the ranks of that kids classic. It's nevertheless very unique and contains some frightening images that will give kiddies nightmares. The imagination here is wild and Selick brings to life images you've likely never seen before- I'm already kicking myself for having not seen this in 3D. Here's my problem with the film, the images are one thing but the storyline is another. If what you are seeing is highly original, the storyline is fairly basic and -might I add- a bit dull. There really isn't anything hypnotic or interesting to recommend here, except for the visuals. Smoke a nice little somethin, somethin, lower the volume to mute and watch the incredible images on screen.

Director Tony Gilroy made a great feature directing debut a few years back with Michael Clayton. He follows that one up with Duplicity, a film with too many twists and turns for it's own good. This is still exciting stuff, with Clive Owen and Julia Roberts playing a 'spy vs. spy' type of game all in the while being buttfuck inlove- how romantic? Highly recommended stuff, that is till the final twist comes along and you feel as though Gilroy is being too good for his own good. The movie should have ended 10 minutes earlier yet there you are watching Gilroy lay down yet another -insufficient- twist. Roberts is actually surprisingly appealing and -yes- very sexy, whereas Clive Owen is always good in anything he does. But you still get a sense of deja vu watching the film- didn't George Clooney and Jenniffer Lopez do the exact same movie at a much higher level with 'Out Of Sight' ? If you should hit the mute button with Coraline, you should leave 5 minutes before Duplicity ends.

'Shutter Island' revealed

The director of such classics as Raging Bull, The Departed, Gangs Of New York, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation Of Christ, Goodfellas, After Hours, Casino, Bringing Out The Dead.. well you get the point. Martin Scorsese's new film.


Looks good and I'm sure the trailer doesn't even do the movie justice. From what I've been hearing, the book- by Dennis Lehane- is very moody and atmospheric. Although -from the looks of the trailer- Scorsese is clearly in B movie territory with this one, along the lines of 1991's Cape Fear. Who knows what'll happen, but consider me intrigued. Shutter Island comes out October 2nd.

'Gentleman, you can't fight here ! This is the war room !'

Well it was bound to happen, a decently restored Blu-ray of Stanley Kubrick's classic 1962 apocalyptic dramedy Dr Strangelove- coming out next week. I haven't yet gotten into this whole Blu-ray phenomenon but I'm hearing sweet things and seeing even sweeter images. Anyways, the film is full of zingers, one liners and the best Peter Sellers performance imaginable. Is it Kubrick's best film ? not even close, that honor goes to the immensly flawed 2001: A Space Odyssey. I guess that's the thing with all of his films - there's mad ambition but I highly doubt he's ever made a perfect one. Alright, before you shoot me or send me angry emails, I never mean this otherwise more than a compliment. If it weren't for his mad vision and even madder ambitions there wouldn't be as much greatness in American cinema. Eyes Wide Shut, A Clockwork Orange, the first half of Full Metal Jacket, The Shining etc. all great films and all madly flawed but irresistably copied over the last 30 years of cinema. Dr. Strangelove is an odd film, full of relentlessly clever dialogue and maddening characters but its goal is simple, to portray the world's governments as complete idiots, that have no bloody idea what they are doing or the evil they are capable of- sounds as relevant as ever.

On a drizzly Tuesday morning..

I'm wondering when exactly is summer coming this year?! Instead of having my usual outside run, I will have to yet again stick to treadmill and weights at the local gym. the horror, the horror ! Maybe Al Gore was right and the world is coming to an end lol

My trouble with 'Gomorra'

Judging by that thread title, I guess you come to realize I came out of a recent screening of this Italian movie feeling somewhat empty and unimpressed. It's not that it's badly made -it isn't- it's the fact that director Matteo Garrone has too much to handle for his own likelihood. He has 5 stories to focus his energy and time on and he doesn't do all of them justice- there are some interesting ones, like the 'scarface' loving teenagers that try to play the mob with their own rules, but even there and then the story gets muddled and reduced to a half baked delivery. My beef with the movie isn't all bad, I do realize that I went into this Italian movie with high expectations and came out completely dissapointed but Garrone does show promise for the future and there are some flashes of brilliance but what brings it down is its own ambitions. It tries to reach the same heights past films such as Traffic, Magnolia and Goodfellas attained by trying to become a mosaic for the crime scene. that is almost an impossible task to achieve since those films have been copied and tried numerous times over the past decade. Critics have been pissing their pants off over this film, I don't really see why.

David Carradine 1936-2009

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.
-David Carradine

It was with great sadness that I heard of David Carradine's death this afternoon. I never met him nor have I ever seen him in person but you could just tell the guy had charisma and character to spare. The last film I saw him star in was Kill Bill in 2004- it was a towering performance and the crowning achievement of a career full of entertainment and hard work. I never had the chance to watch his great TV- 'Kung Fu' or his guest starring role in Alias- but he always had the reputation of being the coolest motherfucker out there. Wherever he is now, he's probably buying drinks for the table.

Happy birthday to me !

Yea, Yea, Yea. I know, I know. Here I am talkin' about my birthday and showing much self-appreciation. Well, tough it out ! It's the only time of the year I'm actually allowed to be selfish and get whatever the fuck I want by using people and squandering them with favours :)) Seriously though, this is number 23 and if that recent Jim Carey movie has any relevance to truthful consequences- which I highly doubt it has- I'm in deep trouble. Thanks to all that have wished me a happy birthday !