Monday, December 27, 2010

Meme Leech :: Criswell Predicts Future Movie Quizzes in the Future.


Presenting Professor Hubert Farnsworth's Only Slightly Futuristic Holiday Movie Quiz via the always entertaining Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

1) Best Movie of 2010

Winter’s Bone

2) Second-favorite Roman Polanski Movie


3) Jason Statham or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Rock beats Statham

4) Favorite movie that could be classified as a genre hybrid

The wild western film noir of Winchester '73

5) How important is foreknowledge of a film’s production history? Should it factor into one’s reaction to a film?

It shouldn't, but it does. One of the banes of the internet age: If a film isn't exactly what a person wants it to be, be it cast or director, or if pre-production leaks don't pass these preconceived musters, then you hate the film already, proclaim it as such as loud as you can -- and you haven't even seen the damned thing yet. Hell, in most cases it hasn't even been FILMED yet. And that seems kinda ass-backwards to me. Me, I'm a nuts and bolts film fanatic, sure, and wild tales of filmmaking have led me to many a treasured classic and anti-classic. But, if at all possible, I usually like to wait until after actually seeing the film before forming an opinion. If my interest is piqued enough, then I'll dig to see what effect it might or might not have on my overall opinion. So I find foreknowledge to mostly be counter-productive; as, like most folks, once I have a preconceived notion set it's hard to shake.

6) William Powell & Myrna Loy or Cary Grant & Irene Dunne?

With somewhat surprising ease,
Powell and Loy win in a landslide.

7) Best Actor of 2010

Casey Affleck The Killer Inside Me

8) Most important lesson learned from the past decade of watching movies

Stars sure aren't as bankable as they used to be, are they?

9) Last movie seen (DVD/Blu-ray/theater)

DVD: Joon-ho Bong's Mother (2010)
Blu Ray: N/A
Theater: Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World (1951)

10) Most appropriate punishment for director Tom Six

Standing up and shouting at the top of my lungs that there is much, much worse out there to see than this, folks. All that hub-bub over that? Please.

11) Best under-the-radar movie almost no one else has had the chance to see?

London to Brighton (2006)

12) Sheree North or Angie Dickinson?

Pepper, you're going undercover as Feathers.

13) Favorite nakedly autobiographical movie

King Kong (1933). Where does Merian C. Cooper end and Carl Denham begin exactly?

14) Movie which best evokes a specific real-life place

The Naked City

15) Best Director of 2010

Ji-woon Kim The Good, The Bad, The Weird

16) Second-favorite Farrelly Brothers Movie

The one where something bad happens to Ben Stiller's privates. Or was that Jim Carrey's?

17) Favorite holiday movie

Invasion U.S.A. (1985) Chuck Norris saves Christmas.

18) Best Actress of 2010

A tie (Yes, a tie; this is my list, deal with it.)

Jennifer Lawrence Winter's Bone
Noomi Rapace The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

19) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson

Nope. Not gonna chose. And I gotta pine axe handle womp'n stick that says you can't make me.

20) Of those notable figures in the world of the movies who died in 2010, name the one you’ll miss the most


Jean Simmons
Grace and Beauty Personified.

21) Think of a movie with a notable musical score and describe what it might feel like without that accompaniment.

Flash Gordon (1980) wouldn't be half as deliriously awesome with a standard symphonic soundtrack.

22) Best Screenplay of 2010

Winter's Bone -- I'm sensing a pattern here.

23) Movie You Feel Most Evangelistic About Right Now

I seem to be defending the merits of the original Tron to my fellow programs a lot lately, rather vehemently.

24) Worst/funniest movie accent ever

Harrison Ford getting his Boris Badenov on in K-19 the Widowmaker. Seriously, if you're not gonna go The Hunt for Red October route, and you're not gonna do subtitles, what is the point of even having a Russian accent if you're saying your dialogue in English?

25) Best Cinematography of 2010

Mo-gae Lee and Seung-Chul Oh: The Good, The Bad, The Weird

26) Olivia Wilde or Gemma Arterton

Wilde. Those eyes. Cat's eyes. Damn. Wow.

27) Name the three best movies you saw for the first time in 2010 (Thanks, Larry!)

Criminal Woman: Killing Melody (1972)
Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)
The Evictors (1979)

28) Best romantic movie couple of 2010

Randy and Evi Quaid. What?

29) Favorite shock/surprise ending

Right now, the ending of Bong's Mother is still resonating in my head. But my all time favorite is a toss-up between Ben taking one to the head in Night of the Living Dead and Chuck Heston finding out what Soylent Green really is.

30) Best cinematic reason to have stayed home and read a book in 2010

I didn't stay at home, and instead of reading a book, I went to a theater and was rewarded with seeing Jerry O'Connell not only getting his wiener bitten off by some killer fish, but then said appendage being regurgitated back up and then eaten again -- in glorious 3-D! -- in the remake of Piranha. (And I'm pretty sure in the DVD release there'll be a deleted scene where the fishes eventually poop out what's left.)

31) Movies in 2011 could make me much happier if they’d only…

Abandon the notion of 3-D just for the sake of 3-D. Especially post 3-D conversions.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays :: The 5th Annual All-Night Christmas Craptacular Moviethon!

A bold notion of tearing through Universal's Box Set of 1950's Sci-Fi gold for this year's all night movie marathon was scuttled at the last moment when someone beat me to it at a local retailer. *sigh* Stuck and thus, in an effort to come up with a new theme, several friends suggested several alternative routes. Routes that proved so tempting I decided to forgo a singular theme and partake in all of them; a potluck of films, if you will. And, after polishing off Season 3 of Deadwood, I'll be damned but if I didn't see a Holiday trend serendipitously presenting itself as the evening's festivities progressed.

Thanks to Tim, Jessica, Bill and Neil for all the suggestions.

And, with that:

A Very Merry Christmas to all.
(Or Bah! Humbug, where applicable.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Vid-Cap Reviews :: Sometimes Finding the Truth is Easier than Facing It : Joon-ho Bong's Mother (2009)

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

"Did you kill her?"
___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Sometimes just knowing that there is a twist ending is enough of a spoiler to ruin a film for some, even though you, technically, don't even know what that shocking revelation actually is yet. Again, just knowing that there is one is enough to derail things as preconceptions as to what the twist could be tends to distract and muck and muddle things up. Joon-ho Bong's Mother has a twist ending in the last act, and I didn't see coming. Hell, it ties itself up into a pretzel -- a pretzel that's trying to devour itself. Usually, I'm pretty good at sniffing these things out but the rug was pulled out from under me this time, leaving me flat on my ass to squirm for the last ten to fifteen minutes as Bong continues to rabbit-punch the audience in the kidneys with each revelation and ramification that barely has time to sink in as the dogged and determined Mother (Kim) in question stops at nothing to exonerate her Son (Woon), accused of murder, by finding the real killer. And, damn, if that wasn't a refreshing experience despite the bitter pill we are asked to swallow.

I hope I haven't ruined Mother for you, here, but that last statement above can be interpreted in a lot of ways. Yeah, yeah, the twist won't blindside you now, like it did me, I already apologized for that. But if it helps at all the reveal isn't a cheat -- the clues are there, and the end net result resonates and will stick with you long after the film ends. Expectations be a harsh mistress seldom satisfied and all that, but, please, do not let that stop you from checking out this truly amazing film.

Madeo / Mother (2009) CJ Entertainment :: Barunson :: Magnolia Pictures / EP: Miky Lee, Katharine Kim, Yang-kwon Moon / P: Yang-kwon Moon, Tae-joon Park, Woo-sik Seo / AP: Joon H. Choi / D: Joon-ho Bong / W: Eun-kyo Park, Joon-ho Bong / C: Kyung-Pyo Hong / E: Sae-kyoung Moon / M: Byung-woo Lee / S: Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won, Ku Jin, Je-mun Yun, Mi-sun Jun

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Good Reads :: Gil Brewer Punches Out a One Way Ticket to Hell with The Vengeful Virgin (1958)

"Doom. You recognize doom easily. It's a feeling and a taste, and it's black, and it's heavy. It comes down over your head, and wraps tentacles around you, and sinks long dirty fingernails into your heart. It has a stink like burning garbage. Doom."

-- Gil Brewer
The Vengeful Virgin

Most protagonists -- check that, let's call 'em anti-protagonists (same genus and species as the anti-hero) in these old hard-boilers aren't necessarily bad guys but due to the machinations of their circumstances usually wind up doing bad deeds, doomed, or dead, or some combination thereof. With author Brewer, however, his characters, from what I've read so far, seem to start out doomed to begin with, are well aware of it, but doggedly blunder along toward their own self-fulfilling destiny, a personal armageddon, dragging the entranced reader right along with them with prose that is gorged with heat, lust and fever.

Here, a nefarious TV repairman hooks up with a fellow traveler, an 18-year old red-head, who takes care of her sick step-father. The elder in question is loaded but he isn't dying quick enough to suit his heir. And while our two schemers conspire and concoct, they soon find out that no matter how perfect the plan, and it was a pretty damned good one, all it takes is one unforeseen circumstance to monkey-wrench the whole shittery. And no matter how fast you are on your feet to counter and cover up these contingencies, each move creates more loose ends, which continue to multiply, exponentially, leaving it no wonder why these things always end in blood and fire.

With Brewer, however, even though we know how this will
probably end from page one, every page between that and the last is worth the time and effort.

Also check out Wild to Possess, And the Girl Screamed, and A Taste for Sin.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Trailerpark :: Jelly Donut Comin' : Strange Brew (1983) and the Rise and Fall of Bob & Doug McKenzie.

___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___

"Geez, Pam, if I didn't have puke-breath, I'd kiss you."
___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___

After the disastrous premiere of their new sci-fi epic, The Mutants of 2051 A.D.,the knuckle-headed McKenzie brothers, Bob and Doug, accidentally spend their old man's beer money, refunding a disappointed customer. And in an attempt to scam free beer from a local brewery to compensate for this lapse, the brothers are soon embroiled in plot pot of family secrets and closeted skeletons, along with a young heiress, a hockey legend, and a whackadoodle brewer who intends to take over the world via some pharmaceutically enhanced mind-control brewskies come Oktoberfest...

Video courtesy of BeautyDayDocumentary.

Okay ... Good day, eh, and welcome to our latest movie review. This one's a real beauty, too, eh. So grab yourself a brew, a cruller, and some smokes -- if you're so inclined -- and settle in for some Strange Brew, where our two hose-head heroes kind of play, like, an ersatz Rosencrantz and Guilderstern; because the plot is kinda sorta based, loosely, on Hamlet, right? If Hamlet took place in Canada; and Elsinore was a brewery instead of a castle; and if Hamlet was, like, a girl, who returns to run the brewery after her father dies under mysterious circumstances, because she doesn't trust her uncle because he's got puke-breath -- who married her mother right after the funeral and ... aw, jeez ... What was we talking about again? 

Oh, yeah, listen up hosers ... long before Wayne and Garth, and long before there was a Beavis or a Butthead, there was Bob and Doug McKenzie (Moranis and Thomas). And it was these two slightly dimwitted, anti-social oddballs who pressed inland from the beachhead established by Jake and Elwood Blues, showing that translating a two-minute sketch piece from the tube to the big screen was a viable Hollywood commodity. Sadly, in most cases, we've been suffering from this conception ever since. But! I come here not bury the McKenzie brothers, but to praise them. For unlike most of the small screen to big screen brethren, this one is actually pretty damned funny.

Born out of necessity, the McKenzies began as network time filler for the legendary Second City Television program, SCTV. Seems the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) needed an extra two minutes of material, per episode, because the CBC ran fewer commercials than it's American syndicators. Wanting it fast, simple, and cost-effective -- and most importantly, the producers needed something with a Canadian theme (-- to appease some federal broadcasting code if I'm to understand things right). Thus, Moranis and Thomas -- members of the famous troupe that included the likes of John Candy, Eugene Levy, Katherine O'Hara and Joe Flaherty -- drew the short straw, and Kanadian Korner was born, that eventually morphed into The Great White North.

All it consisted of was those two guys sitting in front of a large map of Canada, decked out in flannel, parkas, and toques, drinking beer, munching donuts, and frying up back-bacon; and each skit concerned a specific topic, ranging from how to get free beer ['natch], to microwave ovens, to why most donut places have such small parking lots. These skits were totally improvised, and no one paid much attention to them; they were just filler, after all. How could they have known that this little throwaway piece would soon turn into a full blown phenomenon. And it all happened by accident. For if one of the SCTV troupe hadn't taken leave of the show -- Flaherty, I believe, America might never have even seen let alone heard of the McKenzie brothers. Short Flaherty's input, the producers now needed more material for the American show and gave the McKenzie brothers a shot. And they hit. And they hit big.

Everybody wanted more, so, in 1981, Moranis and Thomas cut an album for Polygram as their alter-egos. Again, Bob & Doug McKenzie: The Great White North Album was totally improvised, and, buoyed by a top 40 single, "Take Off", a collaboration with Rush's Geddy Lee, the record eventually went platinum -- one of the last comedy albums to do so. Other highlights include a sermon from Elron McKenzie, Doug's sound-effects, a rousing game of beer hunter, and the Canadian version of "The 12 Days of Christmas."

With the duo's popularity peaking, a movie was inevitable, then, and MGM came knocking. Moranis and Thomas shared both the writing and directing chores, and how the hell they ever got Max Von Sydow involved in this insanity baffles me to no end. Unfortunately, the popularity of the duo began to overwhelm their creators, who were rapidly burning out, and it began to chafe the rest of their SCTV collaborators as well, and, basically, spelled the beginning of the end for that legendary program. And thought this resentment doesn't really show up in the film it definitely showed during the film's promotional tour. 

All of this rancor really didn't help Strange Brew when it finally hit the screens in '83. As with all pop culture, interest was already fading and the movie came too late. Only the hardcore fans were still interested, leading to a disappointing box office, which meant no follow up, which, in turn, relegated our favorite hose-heads to much deserved but relatively minor cult status on home video. The McKenzie Brothers did enjoy a brief renaissance in the late '90s, when they became spokesmen for Miller Brewing, trying to sell Molson to Americans, in a series of hilarious commercials. For the record: the fly fishing one made me laugh the hardest. (The duo claimed they did the campaign for the free beer.) Inevitably, rumors were soon running rampant of a reunion movie -- all the scuttlebutt called it Home Brew, that even had an entry on the IMDB for awhile, but that notion quickly and quietly fizzled out. In 2003, there was also an aborted animated series, where both actors reprise their roles -- although Moranis seemed to be confusing Bob McKenzie with his Lewis character from Ghostbusters. That's me shrugging right now. 

Still, the McKenzie's live on, and will live on, forever, in drunken perpetuity, thanks to their album, the film, and those wonderful SHOUT Factory SCTV DVD's. Those are a real beauty, eh.

And that's our review for today. So, good day, eh. 

Other Points of Interest:

The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew (1983) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) / EP: Jack Grossberg / P: Louis M. Silverstein / AP: Brian E. Frankish / D: Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas / W: Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Steve De Jarnatt / C: Steven Poster / E: Patrick McMahon / M: Charles Fox / S: Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Max von Sydow, Lynne Griffin, Angus MacInnes, Paul Dooley

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Movie Poster Spotlight :: 40 Years, 40 [Birthday] Films.

Okay, for today's hypothetical / theoretical experiment in wishful thinking, we're going back in time to 1970, and then tic off all the films I would've seen, have seen (or wished that I could have seen) that were released on or around my birthday for each year since. And, for the record, this was my source.

1970 :: 1971

1972 :: 1973

1974 :: 1975

1976 :: 1977

1978 :: 1979

1980 :: 1981

1982 :: 1983

1984 :: 1985

1986 :: 1987

1988 :: 1989

1990 :: 1991

1992 :: 1993

1994 :: 1995

1996 :: 1997

1998 :: 1999

2000 :: 2001

2002 :: 2003

2004 :: 2005

2006 :: 2007

2008 :: 2009

And as I look forward [crosses fingers, toes, and anything else pliable enough] to the next 40 years, I'll definitely be kicking it off with this flick for 2010:

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