I did not grow up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I grew up around them. This has freed me to see the new reboot brought to us by Michael Bay and friends from an almost neutral perspective. For instance, I know enough to appreciate the spectacular opening credits/prologue sequence (which pays homage to the original comic book art), however I am not enough of a fan to notice Shredder’s twenty-first century makeover.

This is a movie that wants to appease everyone and (for the most part) it works. It is a sufficient blockbuster although it is not special in any way. Despite a glossy production, a few nicely choreographed action sequences, and an efficiently timed script, the ultimate TMNT big-screen adventure has yet to be made.

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Let’s Be Cops represents the bottom of the barrel of moviemaking. Even if it wasn’t released during a time of social unrest between America’s relationship with the police (it premiered the same weekend as the tragic events in Ferguson), it is a tasteless, compulsively unfunny exercise that is far too stupid to even be controversial. Categorizing it as a comedy is perhaps the most cringe-inducing thing about it. I would instead label it a douchebag fantasy in which two unlikable characters find themselves impersonating cops in the name of filling a void caused by their own insecurities. That they escape without any consequences and are actually rewarded in the end is further evidence of the insane level of poor miscalculation at hand. 

Everything about this movie is bad. The actors (every single one) are horrible mainly for the fact that any idiot would know to turn down a script this heinous. Its story is downright awful and its dialogue morally bankrupt. Pathetic attempts at contriving humor from scenarios involving childhood endangerment, sexism, drug dependency, and homophobia fall horrendously flat. The end credits left me feeling like I needed to cleanse myself by seeing a different film (ANY FILM!) to erase what had just flashed before my eyes. This the worst movie of this or any year!

Let’s Be Cops represents the bottom of the barrel of moviemaking. Even if it wasn’t released during a time of social unrest between America’s relationship with the police (it premiered the same weekend as the tragic events in Ferguson), it is a tasteless, compulsively unfunny exercise that is far too stupid to even be controversial. Categorizing it as a comedy is perhaps the most cringe-inducing thing about it. I would instead label it a douchebag fantasy in which two unlikable characters find themselves impersonating cops in the name of filling a void caused by their own insecurities. That they escape without any consequences and are actually rewarded in the end is further evidence of the insane level of poor miscalculation at hand.

Everything about this movie is bad. The actors (every single one) are horrible mainly for the fact that any idiot would know to turn down a script this heinous. Its story is downright awful and its dialogue morally bankrupt. Pathetic attempts at contriving humor from scenarios involving childhood endangerment, sexism, drug dependency, and homophobia fall horrendously flat. The end credits left me feeling like I needed to cleanse myself by seeing a different film (ANY FILM!) to erase what had just flashed before my eyes. This the worst movie of this or any year!

1 note

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a flawlessly constructed piece of filmmaking. Each frame is carefully manicured to capture the period, the script is pieced together meticulously, and the work by its actors are perfectly modulated. All of these elements combine to create a mood that sustains from the opening shot to the end credits. Unfortunately (at least for me), I was lost in the labyrinthine plot for a good portion of the movie. After about forty five minutes, I found myself abandoning hope of getting on track with the story and instead began to observe the nuances of the performances and the early 70s architecture. 

The plot has a bare bones premise that is actually quite easy to grasp, however the possibilities of where it will go and the constant jumping back and forth between past and present is a bit dizzying. This is complicated by a large collection of characters, some of which are given code names thereby making their identities even more puzzling when they’re named off in the conversations that flow throughout the entire picture. In the end, “Tinker Tailor a Soldier Spy” was a technical marvel but a cold viewing experience. Maybe in the future I will return to it and further unravel its mysteries in order to fully enjoy its tale of political espionage and betrayal.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a flawlessly constructed piece of filmmaking. Each frame is carefully manicured to capture the period, the script is pieced together meticulously, and the work by its actors are perfectly modulated. All of these elements combine to create a mood that sustains from the opening shot to the end credits. Unfortunately (at least for me), I was lost in the labyrinthine plot for a good portion of the movie. After about forty five minutes, I found myself abandoning hope of getting on track with the story and instead began to observe the nuances of the performances and the early 70s architecture.

The plot has a bare bones premise that is actually quite easy to grasp, however the possibilities of where it will go and the constant jumping back and forth between past and present is a bit dizzying. This is complicated by a large collection of characters, some of which are given code names thereby making their identities even more puzzling when they’re named off in the conversations that flow throughout the entire picture. In the end, “Tinker Tailor a Soldier Spy” was a technical marvel but a cold viewing experience. Maybe in the future I will return to it and further unravel its mysteries in order to fully enjoy its tale of political espionage and betrayal.

1 note

After watching Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, I decided to seek out his breakout movie, “Rushmore”. Watching it was similar to my experience with Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”, another film that I saw long after its initial release. In the years since 1998, Anderson has eclipsed himself time after time in pictures like “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, and “Moonrise Kingdom”. To go back to “Rushmore” is like revisiting the in utero stages of his genius. 

I still highly enjoyed it. Bill Murray gives a first rate performance as an alienated steel tycoon and Jason Schwartzman creates an instantly memorable character with Max Fischer. The world around Rushmore Academy also becomes a familiar Anderson ecosystem populated with detailed eccentricities and a random assortment of personalities. If you haven’t already, see it. 

Movie Nerd Question: What is your favorite Wes Anderson film?

After watching Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, I decided to seek out his breakout movie, “Rushmore”. Watching it was similar to my experience with Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”, another film that I saw long after its initial release. In the years since 1998, Anderson has eclipsed himself time after time in pictures like “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, and “Moonrise Kingdom”. To go back to “Rushmore” is like revisiting the in utero stages of his genius.

I still highly enjoyed it. Bill Murray gives a first rate performance as an alienated steel tycoon and Jason Schwartzman creates an instantly memorable character with Max Fischer. The world around Rushmore Academy also becomes a familiar Anderson ecosystem populated with detailed eccentricities and a random assortment of personalities. If you haven’t already, see it.

Movie Nerd Question: What is your favorite Wes Anderson film?

6 notes

Alice in Wonderland was not an instant classic. Walt Disney felt it lacked “heart”, legendary animator Ward Kimball threw the blame at its over-abundance of directors, and upon release, audiences and critics were mostly unresponsive. Later, after Walt’s death, it reemerged as a favorite of 60s psychedelia culture and experience a boom in popularity once it found its way to home video. 

I’ve always admired it for its visual beauty and irreverent humor. Alice herself may not be as heartwarming a figure as Cinderella or Snow White, but her alienation with the adult world and exasperation with the madness of Wonderland is relatable. The characters swirling around her are also undeniably iconic, particularly the grinning Cheshire Cat and the deranged Mad Hatter. It also boasts a fine production. While it lacks the intricacy of “Pinocchio” or “Bambi”, it is apparent that Disney truly allowed his artists to let loose on their canvases.

Alice in Wonderland was not an instant classic. Walt Disney felt it lacked “heart”, legendary animator Ward Kimball threw the blame at its over-abundance of directors, and upon release, audiences and critics were mostly unresponsive. Later, after Walt’s death, it reemerged as a favorite of 60s psychedelia culture and experience a boom in popularity once it found its way to home video.

I’ve always admired it for its visual beauty and irreverent humor. Alice herself may not be as heartwarming a figure as Cinderella or Snow White, but her alienation with the adult world and exasperation with the madness of Wonderland is relatable. The characters swirling around her are also undeniably iconic, particularly the grinning Cheshire Cat and the deranged Mad Hatter. It also boasts a fine production. While it lacks the intricacy of “Pinocchio” or “Bambi”, it is apparent that Disney truly allowed his artists to let loose on their canvases.

2 notes

I don’t think I have ever seen a Western so lusciously photographed as King Vidor’s “Duel in the Sun”. Burning desires and high drama are all captured against a Technicolor desert in this high-dollar adventure that was meant to be a financial and critical successor to producer David O. Selznick’s 1939 mega-blockbuster, “Gone with the Wind”. While it falls short of those impossible standards, it is a marvelous vision that seduces the eyes and ears from the very first frame.

Though it may appear to be firmly rooted in the Western genre, “Duel in the Sun” actually feels more like a soap opera. It plays like Douglas Sirk in the dust. We have seen larger-than-life archetypes like this before in other movies, but never quite so fearlessly over-the-top. The often blazing sexuality of lead actress Jennifer Jones is frequently placed at the center of the action and there are underlying tensions and rivalries perpetually stewing amongst a wealthy Texan dynasty. All of thins plays out against a swelling score and bold cinematography that captures the blistering essence of the scenery.

The film is far too campy and melodramatic to compete with the likes of grand epics like the aforementioned “Gone with the Wind” or the classic John Ford Westerns, however it has carved its own niche into cinematic history. Its themes of race and female sexuality still burn bright and time has not affected its visual splendor.

It has been almost a decade since Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” roared into theaters. It was a fresh, gripping, eye-popping spin on film noir faithfully translated from the pages of Frank Miller’s pulpy graphic novels. Today it remains one of the best experiences I’ve had in a movie theater. Recapturing the freshness and blood-tinged magic of the first feature may seem a daunting task, but in the hands of Rodriguez, Miller (acting again as producer), and a cast comprised of new and familiar faces, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is a grade-A thrill ride from beginning to end.

The world once again does not disappoint. It’s a town of hard-edged heroes, outrageously corrupt officials, dangerous dames, and deranged drifters. The monochromatic landscape is only broken up by flashes of color, usually bold reds and searing blues and greens. The soundtrack is comprised of low thumping beats and a persistent dirty saxophone that hangs over a place free of any sense of period. Sin City is a dark dream world for all time and I want to live in it.

The cast is a kaleidoscope of stars. All of the performances pack a punch, but notable standouts include Eva Green as Ava Lord aka the “dame to kill for” in the title. She brings an erotic magnetism to a role that could have easily dissolved into a bland caricature. Treacherous and tragic, she is utterly spellbinding.

Jessica Alba returning as Nancy Callahan gives the best performance of her career. I’ve never found her to be particularly gifted outside of her beauty, but for the first time I actually feel as if she is giving us a little more than eye-candy. Her anger, mourning, and resentment is palpable here. Even her dance sequences have added depth.

I also enjoyed the ever-reliable Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hotshot hustler, Powers Booth expansion of Rourke’s evil, and of course, Mickey Rourke as Marv, who remains the best character in the show. Also notable are a series of excellent cameos ranging from Ray Liotta to Lady Gaga.

That “A Dame to Kill” for is being considered a flop is a damn shame. American audiences have been seemingly conditioned to respond to a particular format of blockbuster filmmaking that is growing increasingly tired and repetitive. What Rodriguez and company have served up is a rare treat: a late summer tentpole movie that packs equal amounts of star power, style, and genuine artistry. Don’t miss it!

4 notes

Jurassic Park is like revisiting a favorite bedtime story. Perhaps it is because I was lucky enough to experience it in my childhood or maybe that it was released at the dawn of modern day special effects films thereby lacking the gratuitous nature of something like “Transformers”. It is still a technical marvel. The Brachiosaurus, Velociraptors, and the mighty Tyrannosaurus-Rex feel as real as ever. Even though it debuted the same year as Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, it is very much a masterpiece in its own right. I hope it never changes and I doubt it ever will.

Jurassic Park is like revisiting a favorite bedtime story. Perhaps it is because I was lucky enough to experience it in my childhood or maybe that it was released at the dawn of modern day special effects films thereby lacking the gratuitous nature of something like “Transformers”. It is still a technical marvel. The Brachiosaurus, Velociraptors, and the mighty Tyrannosaurus-Rex feel as real as ever. Even though it debuted the same year as Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, it is very much a masterpiece in its own right. I hope it never changes and I doubt it ever will.

1 note