Thursday, September 22, 2011

Defending Paris

John, Jeff and I talked about how I'm probably a bigger fan of Midnight In Paris; we both enjoyed it, but I'll be the one with it in my top ten at the end of the year...he probably won't (he thinks he's too good for it). But I also know that he wrote about the movie on here a fortnight or so before I joined, so obviously you're going to poke at him about it. That and he kinda looks like Woody.

But really, when you think about it, Owen Wilson's character in MIP is a lot like John Wayne's character in Stagecoach...just kidding. I know you'll never be on board.

None of Woody's current films will ever be as good as what he did in the 70s and 80s, but like Jeff said a few months back - if he's able to write something that's amusing and interesting, it's always a blast for us.

But you can bash on the Harry Potter movie franchise all you want. I like to pretend to be a bigger nerd than I really am (I'd only really defend the books). Even if I were paid, I don't know that I'd watch any of those movies again. Well, okay, I will accept money...let's never take that off the table.

As you know, I completely agree that Walt is unlikable now. It's also just crazy that he's being left behind on his own show as well (Jesse, Mike, and Gus seem to be having all the fun). That last episode was awesome; can't wait for the next. Also it's cool to see Bryan Cranston in something like Drive as a reminder of how much he transforms while playing Walt. It's brilliant acting by him - he's a completely different person.

It used to be true of me that I never missed an episode of The Colbert Report or The Daily Show. I've been to live tapings for both shows - I think I've done Colbert 3 or 4 times. It was a dream of mine to be a writer on that show while I was at college, so it does sadden me to report that I haven't been watching either show in a while. I just don't feel as if there is time for me to catch them anymore (which is not exactly true), but also I am trying to remove myself from politics lately. Obama has disappointed me to the point that I've decided I won't be voting next November. But I'll probably try to catch a few episodes here and there.

Ben, agreed about Weeds. Leaving Agrestic and dumping Conrad hurt the show a lot and the writing hasn't been as strong since 3. I was pleasantly surprised with season 6, but now we're back to crap. I'll probably finish the season at some point, though. Glad that we'll be able to talk about Boardwalk. I haven't seen Treme but I've heard really good things.

I know the Emmys are a joke, but it's damn silly to put HBO/AMC/Showtime shows in the same category as crappy ABC and CBS shows - I'm looking at you, Modern Family. My apologies if anyone on here watches that show - there are worse things out there, but still.

With NBC, I can't wait for more 30 Rock. Too bad we have to wait until mid-season for new episodes. I'm also hoping Parks and Recreation will get a little funnier now that it seems to have found a larger audience. We need more Ben Schwartz/ Jean-Ralphio and Aziz scenes. The Office hasn't been relevant for me since the writer's strike. How the mighty hath fallen - I've been re-watching season 3 (when the show was brilliant). Steve Carell was hilarious, Andy Bernard was better off as a douchey Cornell grad with anger problems, and the Jim/Pam stuff seemed so real at times that you forgot you were watching actors on a show.

Brandon, like Ben, I hope to donate to the Kickstarter project after I get my next paycheck. Again, hope the tour is going well. And, had you gone out on tour without giving us a bathroom story, I would've been disappointed. So thanks for that hilarious facebook post a week ago or so.

I stayed home sick today and considered watching Cold Weather on the Reed Hasting's NWI but I watched Shadow of a Doubt instead. I remain a nincompoop for now but I still might catch it. Give me time.

I think I said that I had more to say on Drive. I guess I just don't. Not until someone else posts...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Well, someone else will have to be the dissenting voice...

Drive was f*cking awesome - there's really no other appropriate way for me to put it. It's the reason why I go to the movies. Like Jeff, I might be inclined to call it a masterpiece because I didn't walk away from the theater with any regrets or any feelings that I would change something about it. There's no wasted time here. It is what it is and it can't be duplicated. Well, people might try and duplicate it, but they'll fail miserably if they do.

The style, the music, the script, the direction all worked wonderfully together. Without this movie, I'd probably never give the soundtrack any consideration, but it fits perfectly and even makes an already very cool film that much cooler.

Lisa posted that apt/amusing someecard on facebook. Really, though, I think I have a crush on everyone in this film - even Ron Perlman's ugly self. As Jeff said, the chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan is perfect - they say so much just from staring at each other. Cranston, Brooks, Oscar Issac, Christina Hendricks, Perlman, Kaden Leos - hats off.

The camera movement was silky smooth and I agree with Jeff that Refn upped his game for this one (though I've only also seen Bronson, which I really enjoyed). I'm glad he wrote the thing about Gosling recruiting him for this project - just goes to show how this one was completely rescued. I guess the shitty action film that featured Hugh Jackman was turned into Real Steel. Refn also just handled the tension perfectly and the tension was aided by the degree of violence in the film. Brooks and Perlman are dangerous people who want hesitate to stab you multiple times in the throat.  Brandon noted how some of the reviews were critical of the violence, and really, people should know what they're getting into before seeing it's pretty graphic; I had my wisdom teeth removed earlier in the day and luckily I wasn't feeling nauseous at the time.

We've talked about violence in film quite a bit on these blogs, so maybe this film will help to continue that conversation a bit - but I definitely saw no problems with how it was handled. The driver's attitude throughout the film seemed very nonchalant and fearless - Refn matched that fearlessness with each decision and I love it.

The pacing is also brilliantly done - as John said, even when the movie feels very slow, Gosling and Mulligan's facial expressions keep the film moving. The silent scenes are just as enjoyable for me as the car chases and everything else. And I wish I had counted the seconds in which Gosling sat in the car with his stab wound at the end. You were waiting for that blink and each second that he didn't was a bit mesmerizing.

Who is the audience for this movie? Not that I really care, but I did expect this film to do better in the box office - it seems to offer a little bit of something for everyone. I wouldn't be shocked to hear a negative review of the film, but I'd really have to be convinced that there's nothing redeemable about it. But word-of-mouth is traveling quickly - it's too violent and it isn't The Fast and the Furious. More to love.

This first post is pretty gushy - sorry. I have more to say, but right now I'm feeling feverish (Gosling fever, perhaps?) and I need to lie down. Let me think about things a bit more, because I know there's still quite a bit to discuss. I can't wait for everyone else to see it, and hopefully that happens soon.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No TV and No Beer Make Homer Go...something something.

With Brandon soaking up the rays in Atlanta, there's no one to stop us from letting our love for television shine! I do hope the tour is going well.

Careful, folks - some spoilers ahead.

The Simpsons

John, we've finished season 7, but I might wait a few weeks before posting to give you a chance to watch more. I hope you're enjoying it, though; this truly is a great season. But, if you are watching the episodes in order, the season does fizzle out a bit after A Fish Called Selma...not too much but a little, in my opinion.

Breaking Bad

The fourth season has really picked up during the past few weeks and I'm enjoying the second half much more than the first (the opposite of season 3, really). Bryan Cranston is one hell of an actor and I love the guy - but I gotta admit that Walter White is currently one of my least favorite characters. I can't believe I see him in the same light as Skyler, Marie, and Hank. It's not something I'm happy about...believe me. Prediction (though probably an obvious one): Hank will be dead by the end of the season.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

I've just finished the 8th season and overall it was very enjoyable. It did lack focus throughout; the arc wasn't as present as in the previous seasons. It was supposed to be the "Larry returns to New York" season, but he didn't go there until the sixth episode or so. Even when he got to NYC, there was no real arc. That's not too much of a complaint, though. I haven't been throughly pleased with a season since the fourth. Seasons 5-7 made me laugh, but the episodes got more and more ridiculous and I was pretty critical of them as I watched. Season 8 was along the same lines, but I've learned to let go of that criticism and just sit back  and let the show entertain me - no matter how ridiculous the story got. I thought the finale was hilarious, and hopefully Larry gives us a season 9. I'm not ready for it to end.


I believe I'm on episode six or seven of the seventh season. I didn't necessarily choose to stop watching, it just worked out that way. My opinion on the season so far isn't very favorable. It isn't as bad as season five, but it's definitely worse than six. Bringing Heylia back was a great decision and definitely gave the season a much needed shot in the arm. But Nancy still sleeps with a lot of randos (sigh) and Andy has been mostly pushed to the background. I'm losing interest and I think I heard a rumor that this would be last season. If so, it'd probably be the right call. I just hope the finale is memorable because I still believe the series deserves as much.

Boardwalk Empire

Season 2 premiers on September 25th; if you're unfamiliar with this show, do yourself a favor and watch it (google "project free tv"). Season 1 was phenomenal; this is definitely one of the best shows on television, if not the best. Great cast - especially the three Michaels - Pitt, Shannon, and Stuhlbarg, great writing, and a great visual style. No spoilers, just go out and see it. If you have, let's talk.


The sixth season starts on October 2nd. My expectations aren't too high as the previous season was mostly boring. It's cool that Mos Def and Colin Hanks have been added to the cast, but yeah, I'm not sure what we'll get from this upcoming season. Season 1 was one of the greatest television experiences of my life; season 2 was pretty damn good; season 3 stunk; season 4 was fantastic and emotional; and again, five was "meh." Here's hoping I'm pleasantly surprised.

The State

I just got the complete series in an auction on ebay. I was too young to watch the show when it was on, but maybe some of you Gen-Xers were fans. I'm a big fan of Wet Hot American Summer and that prompted me to check this out on Netflix a year or two ago. Not every sketch hits the mark, but there's a lot of great stuff - "Teens and 'dults don't mix."

I feel like I'm missing something...hmm...

Lastly, I guess it's only right that we're all seeing Drive separately since Brandon was the first one to post on it and he wouldn't be able to watch it with us. It definitely would've been nice if we all got to see it together (Jason and Lisa included, but obviously it's a hell of a lot tougher for you two to catch movies with us). So again, at least now no one has to worry about missing out on the group viewing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Movie Round-up

I haven't posted in a while, but I have been watching a lot of moooovies. Like many of you, I'm really excited for Drive and can't wait for that CR5FC event; I can confirm that Binghamton Regal will start showing it this Friday, but because Jeff only has class on Tuesday and Thursday, we probably won't go until next week...but let's make it happen, gang!

Below this line is a list of films I've recently watched...

Miller's Crossing

I've wanted to watch this one for a long time. Brandon and Jeff's "top ten gangster films" discussion prompted me to move it to the top of my queue a few weeks back. Great performances from everyone (I especially loved J.E. Freeman as "The Dane"); the direction and script were exactly what I would expect from the Coen's - brilliant.

The Vanishing

Watched the '88 original. Jeff told me about this one a year ago or so. In fact, I believe he spoiled the ending for me, but because he spoiled it so long ago, I mostly forgot. Anyway, I was really impressed with this one - especially the story. I also had an idea for the last shot of the film, but it could easily be considered corny. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Given Saskia's dream of two lights traveling through the darkness, I thought it would've been cool to have a shot of Saskia and Rex in their respective graves, each holding up a lighter. But in order for that to be possible, Saskia would've had to been buried a day earlier instead of three years earlier. Oh well, still an interesting one that I would recommend.


I really like Von a director/writer. I don't necessarily need to like him as a person, but I'll admit that I don't mind him at all in that department; the man is nothing more than a goofball. This film is a fine example of why I feel the way I do about his filmmaking abilities. The style was inspired and very cool.


The Hitchcock film...not the Biggie bio-pic (sorry, guys). I've also wanted to watch this one for a long time. Hitchcock, Grant, and Bergman is a winning trio for me. I'm working on a top-ten Hitchcock list, but it probably won't be posted for another month or so. I'm trying to catch a lot of the ones I've missed. I really enjoyed this one, though, and I'll probably save my comments for that aforementioned future post.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Gotta love Alec Baldwin and gotta love this Mamet script - a lot of cursing and a lot of ego. Yes!

Rio Bravo

This was my first John Wayne film. I know, I know. But I haven't been living under a rock, so I've always been familiar with Wayne and the type of characters he played. Honestly, I've avoided him for a long time because I never saw him as a good actor and he just seemed like a douchey human being to me. Having said that, I found him to be very likable in this one. But what surprised me a little more was that he got the girl in the end. Sure, I regret being dismissive of him, but goddamn, the man is not very attractive.


Once again, another Hitchcock film I hadn't seen. More thoughts to come with the Hitchcock list. But I will say that I loved it.

White Heat

A post of firsts - yes, I'm very ashamed to admit that this was my first Cagney film. Now I know what I've been missing. Cagney completely blew me you'd expect. Absolutely phenomenal; it's tough to take your eyes off of him as he just commands every scene he's in. His performance as Cody Jarrett was also pretty terrifying. I'd never shoot your ma in the back, Cody. I swear. Also, I've already made plans to see everything else he's in.

Meek's Cutoff just came to Netflix; it's at the top of my queue. Same deal with Jane Eyre.

John, we love season 7 of The Simpsons - definitely one of our favorites with a lot of great episodes/storylines. We're on the fourth disc (I believe we only have three or four episodes left). Hopefully you're ready to do some ranking soon.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Just When You Thought It Was Safe...To Stop Posting On DBAOTD

I'm really wishing I lived in the house from the movie right now. I've got a wisdom tooth that is bugging the hell out of me.

Ha, my bad for stealing your thunder, John. Right before I posted I thought about how I probably wrote too much, but given that we were all mostly in agreement, someone's thunder was going to be stolen.

Jesse and Mike vs. the Tooth Faeries would definitely be another hit for AMC - they should look into it. Not only would they be gangsters, but they'd also take on ghostbusting jobs as well.

At one point while we were watching the movie, I believe it was the dinner scene, I began wonder what the movie would be like as a screwball comedy. It would've been great if the faeries started playing pranks on Charles Widmore and the other guests. Someone's laces should've been tied together or something.

Oh, and speaking of Widmore, I'm happy to see that you're a Lost fan, John. We should discuss that soon, if you're up for it. I think I need to release some pent-up anger over that final season.

I became a fan of Guy Pearce after watching Memento. So I really see Joey Pantoliano as the consummate smarmy jerk. I've got a feeling that you loathe that movie, but I'd like to be proven wrong.

Jeff, definitely agree about the film lacking identity and feeling uneven. Great point.

Anyone who has seen Ernest Scared Stupid knows what an absolute frightfest it is...and I'm not even talking about the acting.

I wanted to hear a horror fan's thoughts on the movie, and that's exactly what I got with Jason's post. Thanks. And with his upcoming post in mind, I wanted to ask the question - if a movie like this isn't scary, does it suck? - in that first post. And this really brings me to one of my beefs with horror films - they're one note. They're either scary or they're not with very little else to offer.

I can understand Jason's frustration, though. Given the trailer and the fact that del Toro was involved, we were led to believe that this one was going to be both scary and very well-done. So I went in with that mindset, and I also expected to be entertained. I was probably too nice to it because I guess I was entertained by it - but it's definitely a movie with a ton of faults. But yeah, I am the last person who should give recommendations on horror (see Ernest Scared Stupid). Maybe I liked it more because it didn't scare me. Very lame, I know.

Again, didn't want to touch the cliches, but now that Jason has brought them up, I will say that I mostly agree. The genre allows for millions of questions/points like those, but I am glad that you listed movies you've seen that do the opposite. That's good to hear. If I ever wrote a horror screenplay, I would do everything I could to avoid these cliches and stupid decisions. Someone needs to put a Llewelyn Moss-type in one of these movies.

One thing I will say that Jeff, John, and I talked about was that del Toro claims that by making Guy Pearce's character financially-tethered to the house, it made it tougher on him to just get up and leave. I sort of understand this as money is a major concern for all of us. But right, your daughter's life should be worth more to you than a mansion house.

Glad we agree about having less face-time with the faeries. We needed more shadows.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Won't Be Afraid of the Dark

It's quite possible that I won't be able to post at all tomorrow, so I figure I would submit this tonight. I imagine Jason is at the theater now and wouldn't even be able to read this until he got back anyway. If you're doing a later showing, obviously ignore this for now. And John and Jeff, don't feel as if you have to respond to my post in your first posts. We've got time to debate. So here goes...

John, it was great to finally meet you; can't wait for the next CR5FC event...which is The Immortals, right? Ben, had you gone with us, you would've understood that inside joke. Sorry, just the facts, my friend.

On Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, I can understand why Guillermo del Toro was pissed about getting an "R" rating; I'd be pissed, too. As a result, the people who would've been terrified by this movie (ages 8-16) won't get to see it unless their parents or a sibling who is also old enough to buy cigs and porn takes them.

Ben and Lisa, you should see it. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. You can trust me - I am very much a wimp when it comes to this stuff (Ernest Scared Stupid freaked me out as a kid) and I slept very peacefully in an apartment by myself Thursday night. Lights off and everything.

I'll be interested to hear what our resident horror experts, Jason and Brandon, think about it...but then I'd also like to hear from someone who was scared by I could pick on them. Stupid, scared little kids. Kidding, kids.

There was a moment when I sat in the theater and wondered whether or not I was now too old to be afraid of a movie. But I think I really just chalk it up to the movie being more appropriate for a younger audience. Had I seen this movie at the age of thirteen, I probably would've bankrupted my parents with the electric bill.

So the "scary movie" wasn't scary - doesn't that make it bad or unsuccessful? No, I enjoyed it and thought it was entertaining. I also think it's best to see it in the theater. This movie is great if there are speakers behind you; it definitely gave the movie more atmosphere and life...makes you feel as if you're being watched or something.

Simultaneously, I'm trying not to get hung up on a lot of the horror movie cliches that were also in this one. The only review I did glance at before seeing the movie was one in which the reviewer couldn't seem to get over the fact that Sally's father, Alex, didn't decide to leave the house sooner (though del Toro does have a pretty good response for me). I know I can't fixate on that because without that stupid decision and many other stupid decisions, the movie would only be twenty minutes long. Stupidity is a catalyst for conflict, especially in horror. In that sense, I can understand why many people laugh throughout these kinds of movies. Sometimes they can be pretty damn silly. There were a couple of moments when Jeff, John, and I exchanged smirks. The whispering that made the trailer and website kind of spooky wasn't really effective in the film, I have to say. Sometimes what was whispered was downright laughable.

Other criticisms - I really am tired of characters like Alex, but what are you going to do? Granted, if I had a daughter and she told me that little creatures climbed into her room and were trying to take her, I'd probably be dismissive, too. Films like these are supposed to be based in our world, so of course Alex is going to ignore her and up her dosage of Adderall instead. Okay, fine...but still.

And while I'd rather watch this movie than many of the others in the horror genre, I still sat in my chair and thought to myself, "It would be nice to watch a horror movie that was completely devoid of these cliches. To have more story going on and to have characters who didn't say the things you knew they were going to say." Someday. But the movie is enjoyable because, as del Toro tells us, it's of the same mold as many of the older haunted house movies that children might come across while channel surfing late at night. It very much has a vintage kind of feel to it. I didn't see the original made-for-tv version.

The movie is effective in making you dislike Pearce's character (an actor I like) and making you like Katie Holmes' character (an actress I dislike). But hell, she was attractive and even likeable in this. Bailee Madison was great - a cute kid who did a really nice job. I felt that the house had a nice design and was a great-looking haunted house. The door on the basement was pretty cool as was the look of the basement itself. I also liked the folklore aspect of the story and maybe felt that that part should've been played up more. But I don't think the movie necessarily needed to be too much longer.

Since I'm still holding out hope that Ben and Lisa will see it (and since Brandon is out on tour and his opportunities are limited), I'd like to point out that below this sentence is my SPOILERS section.


I liked the opening scene as it was definitely the creepiest part of the movie. It got my anticipation up and even put me a little on edge, I admit. Since they got an R anyway, they probably should have just shown Blackwood hammering through the maid's skull. But you guys know me and it's probably best that I didn't witness something like that. Ha.

But yeah, after little...too...much.

What do you guys think - did we see too much of the creatures? Part of me feels that we did and that that made them less terrifying. I was content with the design and computerization of them, though. I guess I'm old-fashioned in only wanting to see my monsters until the very end.

One thing that I mentioned to Jeff and John was that I was a little shocked by the ending. I did not expect Kim to die. I figured that the movie would most likely end with them leaving the house and showing that someone else had moved in. But yeah, didn't expect her to die. A part of me likes that she did, but yeah, that also sucks; she didn't deserve it. Funny how the guys like Alex, who are assholes throughout the entire ordeal, usually live. I think I was mainly shocked because of the idea that they wanted a PG-13 rating. How many PG-13 movies can you think of in which an innocent main character dies? I'm not saying I agree with the MPAA, but that was a little strange and unexpected. Also, after she was taken down the hole, I half-expected a rescue scene. Maybe that would've been cheesy and stupid, but I think it would've been cool to see what was down there. Maybe a paradise full of happy full-toothed children as John suggested.

But her death does work because it gives us a nice ending in which Kim's whispers can now be heard with the rest of the creatures. A nice little nugget to leave us with.

Another scene that I thought was well-done was when Harris (the gardener) was attacked. Pretty cool in a slightly gruesome (based on my standards) sort of way.

But I've said a lot and I should probably leave some room for everyone else to talk about it. Again, I don't necessarily want this early post to influence what anyone else writes about it tomorrow. If we say similar stuff, so be it.