Posts tagged: Film

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Potty-Mouthed 11 Year-Old Girl Slaughtering Criminals!

By , April 16, 2010

Kick-Ass gets the star billing, because this is a movie about someone without super powers (Dave Lizewski, a.k.a. Kick-Ass) donning a costume and embarking on a career as a super-hero, but a better name for Kick-Ass may very well have been Hit-Girl, for she truly steals the show. She, and her father/partner Big Daddy, are actual super-heroes inserted into a world in which they ostensibly don’t exist.


Kick-Ass saving the day as only he can.

As every previous film adaptation of a comic book has, in my eyes, fallen short of the comic, I went into this movie with mixed expectations, especially since, while I enjoyed the comic book, I didn’t *love* it the way many fans did. I didn’t expect anything amazing; what I saw was quite possibly the best comic book movie I’ve ever seen.

So much will be made of the violence, especially since much of it is being perpetrated by an 11-year-old actress, but to me, that’s beside the point. The movie got everything right that most other super-hero films get wrong. Take Iron Man— I enjoyed that film, and I found the portrayal of Tony Stark as a complex individual who is part alcoholic playboy and part torn humanitarian to be quite gripping. Had the movie been called Tony Stark it would have been a fine character study, but it had no place in a movie called Iron Man. In my mind, the ideal super-hero film is Die Hard with a guy in tights replacing Bruce Willis. Take a few minutes of screen time to introduce us to Peter Parker/Bruce Banner/Steve Rogers/Whoever, then pit him up against someone or something seemingly unbeatable. After about 90 minutes of epic battling, engineer an unexpected method of victory for the seemingly out-matched hero, then roll the credits.

Kick-Ass does exactly that, in spades. There are just enough civilian-identity shenanigans to flesh out the characters, and a couple genuinely tender scenes that never drift into the maudlin. The rest is Hit-Girl kicking ass, Kick-Ass futilely trying to keep up with her, and McLovin’ showing us what the well-to-do super-hero is driving this season.


Sure she’s only 11, but she can beat you up.

Don’t get me wrong– Kick-Ass is not populated by one-dimensional characters and stereotypes. You understand why Dave dons his costume, and when he wins the fight that launches him to fame, he does so in a way that is simultaneously heroic and believable. That scene more than any other illustrates why he ultimately is the star of a film that at times seems to focus far more on Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. He is in many ways the Jack Benny of the super-hero set– the guy in a costume surrounded by heros and villains, not grasping the full gravity of any of it, but somehow stumbling through to the final reel. By that time he has come to terms with what ought to be his mantra, with no power comes no responsibility, and he does what he ought to have done all along: get out of the way and let Hit-Girl go to town, while still managing to do a bit of day-saving of his own.

I don’t think I’m alone in my love of this film, or my belief that it is better than its source material. A row of ten über-geeks seated directly in front of us last night all left the theater proclaiming likewise, and I overheard many comments to the effect of “best movie ever,” “way better than the comic” as I exited the cinema. If I didn’t have tickets to see Hot Chip, I’d go see this again tonight; I’ll almost certainly be back in a theater this weekend to watch it once more.


Goodbye John

By , August 12, 2009

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

I don’t know if I have ever blogged merely to link to another blog, but that’s sort of where today’s post is going. I’ve been trying for six days now to think of what to write about John Hughes’ death, but haven’t been able to craft anything worth sharing. Then today I read this blog and I realized why John Hughes mattered to me. It wasn’t merely that he created so many great films; he was a genuinely great guy.

I tend to ignore celebrity-related news and issues, and certainly don’t blog about them. I can’t bring myself to care. Michael Jackson’s recent death felt like such a non-issue to me, and the resultant hysteria was mystifying and disappointing to me. But last week John Hughes died, and, like I suppose most Americans my age, I took notice. Here’s an artist who actually contributed something lasting to our culture.

There is little I can offer that likely hasn’t been said before. The Breakfast Club certainly presaged the era of reality television, and the first film I’m aware of that dealt with teen issues in such a starkly real way. It is also a rarity in that it cast actual teens as teens. Weird Science is on some level a starkly realistic insight into the psyche of the teen male, as well as a too-real depiction of life for two uncool guys.

Hughes’ true masterpiece, however, as far as I’m concerned, is Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. I’ll spare you a long-winded exposition on why Generation X made the world a better place, despite the efforts of the Baby Boomers that came before them, and the OMG’ers that came after. Instead I’ll offer Ferris as the Gen-X everyman. From his day off you can glean most everything you need to know about the topic. Consider– he spent his day off attending a Cubs game, visiting the Chicago Institute of Art, watching a parade, and eating a nice lunch. Think about that for awhile, then get back to me.

As the trip to the museum is one of my favorite of all moments cinematic, I am including it in today’s post.

Finally, as a teen, and even still as an adult, I wondered– did the popular kids, portrayed in such unflattering light in his films, also like John Hughes? How could they? How dare they? Those movies were made for me… and Alison.


Some Quality Reading

By , July 7, 2005

So Tawny says she prefers “quality reading” on Xanga, which is female code for “enough with the song lists already, buddy.” Never one to say no to a challenge, I will take a stab at writing something of quality. In case I fail, I have cooked up another song list for the less discriminating among my readership. Without further ado… some quality reading.

Whilst waiting for Batman Begins to, well, begin, I offered to procure some treats for my friend Emily and I. And me? Whatever. Anyway. What I mean to say is that I was going to head to the lobby for some snacks. A bag of the popped c, maybe some candy. I asked Emily to select a beverage– she said she wanted 7-Up.

I know of this beverage. Once, as a wee lad I took a sip of one, and did not like it. Since then I haven’t tried it again, on account of I reckon I won’t like it. But when Emily extolled the merits of said beverage, I began to wonder– do I still dislike it? I *hated* Cap’n Crunch forever. As recently as my freshman year of college I couldn’t stand the stuff, but then a couple years ago I randomly had some and liked it just fine. So maybe now I will like 7-Up. I mean, it’s possible, right? If I suddenly liked Cap’n Crunch, then maybe I will find 7-Up to be refreshing and delicious and crisp, and whatever other adjectives one uses to describe a bottle of pop; or a soft drink, whichever you prefer.

So, I intend to drink one. Soon.

The end. Just in case that was not interesting, here is another crummy song list:

Best Albums of Recent Life:

Arcade Fire – Funeral (This is so good. It is beyond good. My favorite thing I heard all of last year. It may be my favorite record ever.)

Camera Obscura – Underachievers Please Try Harder (I still listen to this all the time)

Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (I did not think this band could ever top Fever and Mirrors. They didn’t, but damn they came close.)


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

By , February 23, 2005

Today in the car, my Mother and I were discussing that famous question: “If you could have dinner with any three individuals, living or dead, who would you choose?” I began to wonder if one picks say, Julius Caesar or Hammurabi, if a second seat has to be reserved for a translator. I also worried that if I picked too clever a bunch, I’d be left out of the conversation altogether. What do I even have to say that Einstein, Aristotle, or Mozart could give a damn about?

I finally settled on Thomas Jefferson, whom I’d ask to give his opinions of modern day politics through the eyes of a framer of the Constitution, Douglas Macarthur, as he would definitely have some exciting war stories, and Takeru Kobayashi, just to see how much he would eat.

You probably think that answering today’s question is going to require you to compile your own list of three diners, which you are welcome to do, but the real question is yet to come

You see, later on we were listening to the radio and, utterly coincidentally, the host suggested that audience members draft a list of the 20 guests, living or dead, they’d invite to a cocktail party. Suddenly he was talking my language; and though he didn’t specify it, I think that it is assumed that the dead invitees would be somehow plucked from their former lives and placed in the room ready to party. A room full of cadavers does not make for a swanky soiree, and zombies don’t drink cocktails, they are cocktails.

Currently Playing: Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party

I suppose now the question I am about to ask has become a bit more obvious, but here goes: Today’s Question: You can invite 20 historical figures to your cocktail party. Whom do you invite?

I am hard at work on my list, and will post it soon.

How soon is now? Here are my guests. I hope they can all make it! I have alphabetized them so nobody feels bad about being at or near the bottom of the list. Also, I’ve selected ten men and ten women, to balance things out.

Maria Callas
Winston Churchill
W.C. Fields
Greta Garbo
Cary Grant
Ernest Hemingway
Audrey Hepburn
Hedda Hopper
Veronica Lake
        Douglas MacArthur
Groucho Marx
Marilyn Monroe
Dorothy Parker
Sylvia Plath
Edward G. Robinson
Preston Sturges
Mae West
Oscar Wilde
P. G. Wodehouse

Musical entertainment will be provided by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians.


12 Down, 8 to Go

By , November 21, 2004

The Castro Theater in San Francisco is in the midst of a week-long Godzilla Festival. Below is a collage I put together of the 20 films they’re showing. You’ll notice that not all of them involve Godzilla, but they’re all Toho Studio productions, and of the “guys in foam rubber suits smashing Tokyo” genre.

Now me, I just like to sit in a theater and eat popcorn and watch the movies and occasionally chuckle at the campiness, but some people take this way seriously. Nearly every one of the 12 I’ve seen so far has played to an almost-packed house. At least 600 to 700 people are showing up for these things. I didn’t expect that. I also didn’t expect the Godzilla Shopping Mall they have created in the upstairs lobby of the theater. Patrons are dropping small fortunes on posters, models, magazines, t-shirts and such.

To top it off, the theater is bringing in the old actors from the ’60s films to introduce the movie. They’ve got a translator up there and everything. The guy who played the villain in Mothra was there last night, as was the guy who wears the Godzilla suit. People were so excited to ask him questions, but I mean– all he did in the films was stomp around in a rubber costume. Who cares? Regardless, the films are fun, though Fizzy seems less than enthused than me.

Castro Theater Godzilla Poster

ALSO– Godzilla is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next week! They are coinciding it with the World Premiere of the 28th, and allegedly final, Godzilla film, Godzilla: Final Wars. I’ve seen the preview 12 times now, as they run it before each film. It looks a lot more high-tech than one would expect from a Godzilla film; sort of a less-slick looking Matrix sort of thing but with guys in monster suits added into the mix. It includes a scene where Godzilla kicks the ass of “Zilla,” which is what the Japanese call the monster in the American Godzilla with Matthew Broderick. Apparently he’s a Zilla, but not worthy of the God part. Oh, so I was saying– on November 29th Godzilla gets his star, and his new movie premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Who knew?

Today’s Question: What is your favorite Godzilla movie?


Netflix is Ruining My Life

By , August 17, 2004

We signed up for Netflix, and it is a little bit overwhelming. As soon as you watch something and send it back, they send more, and the resulting sense of pressure to watch watch watch is getting to be too much for me. I don’t watch movies *that* often, but I feel like I won’t be getting my money’s worth if I don’t generate a quick turn-around time by watching and returning movies quickly. I now find myself trying to set aside two or three hours every day for movie watching, and what was once fun has now become a chore. Netflix is ruining my movie-watching experience!

Since all I do anymore is watch DVDs, my blog will come to reflect that lifestyle change; here are some quick bits about the movies we’ve received since joining. My apologies in advance for what I know will be sentence fragments and generally poor grammar.

Big Deal on Madonna Street – as of yet unwatched
Zoolander – as of yet unwatched
La Strada – as of yet unwatched

Okay, that was pretty boring, but those are the three I just received. Here are my nutshell reviews of the one’s I’ve watched and returned:

The Cooler – Has its ups and downs. A clever premise that ended up a so-so film.

Fallen – Good sci-fi/ noir mix, appropriately creepy, with wide appeal. I had seen it when it was new, and it held up to a repeat viewing

Take Care of My Cat – I’ve been playing excerpts from the soundtrack during cocktail hours for the past few years. Not much more to say. There is a cat. Dunno… Fizzy watched more than I did.

The Seventh Seal – It’s depth and scope is impossible to describe; sublimely beautiful, among the greatest films of all time. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I wanted to share it with Fizzy; she liked it.

Down by Law – Another of my favorite movies, ever, that I wanted to share with the gee eff. I think maybe this is more of a “guy” movie, but it is really good and transcends that.

Miller’s Crossing – The only Coen bros. film I had never seen, and a fantastic film, as expected. This time around they did a prohibition-era mob film. They sure have range, those bros.

The Producers – Something I’d always wanted to see– my parents always told me how much they loved this movie– it is funny.

Peter Pan – The new version, quite well done. Great for kids but enough adult overtones to make it work for all ages.

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder – After the 10th person said this movie was my life’s story I had to watch. It’s engrossing, and if you acquiesce to the film it’s a lot of fun

Bottle Rocket – Damn hilarious; no Rushmore, but almost a Royal Tenenbaums

Capturing the Friedmans – Pretty poor; left me wondering why anyone would care enough to make a movie about them. They certainly ham it up and never cease reminding us about how important and wonderful they all are.

To Kill a Mockingbird – A decent adaptation of one of my favorite books.

A Beautiful Mind – Predictable, but enjoyable to an extent. Very “Hollywood”

Adaptation – Excellent; unique and well-acted. Nick Cage played both roles impeccably, never over-stepping what was a very fine line between the believable and the hyperbolic.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind – Everyone told me this was an amazing film, but I didn’t like it very much. It felt as though it tried for style over substance but lacked style, though it definitely has its moments.


Spider-Man 2

By , June 30, 2004

I will begin this quasi-review by stating that I think Spider-man is an excellent film. I seldom see a movie in the theater more then once during its initial release, but I saw the first Spider-man three times. I don’t think I’d gone twice to see a film since O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and normally I tend to want to wait awhile before re-watching a movie, but I got really into Spider-man. Also, I super heart Sam Raimi. I’ve been a huge fan of his since I saw the Evil Dead movies, so I was excited when I heard he was directing the movie. Anyway, the point is– I really liked the first movie, so bear that in mind as I extol the virtues of its sequel.

Spider-Man 2

I like the new one even better than the first one! The story is engrossing, the characters are deeply developed, the villain is more intriguing, and the special effects are better. There is a scene in, on, and around a runaway subway train that has to be seen to be believed; it actually had me on the edge of my seat and breathless.

I promised my nephew and his friend that I would take them to see it Thursday (tomorrow), but then decided to see it at the midnight am showing late Tuesday/ early Wednesday morning. I was a little hesitant to do that, as I wasn’t sure I wanted to sit through it again with the kids, but I am kinda tempted to go again in between and make the viewing with the kids number three. It’s just that good.

I can’t wait for Thursday.


Birthday Oh Four

By , May 20, 2004

The best part about having a birthday is that you can make people suffer. Wait, that came out wrong. What I mean to say is, when one’s birthday comes around, one can use that as leverage to make one’s friends engage in activities which they may otherwise not engage. Especially when the “one” in that sentence is me, that is a good thing. For my idea of fun seldom intersects my friends’ ideas of fun.

As my birthday is fast approaching, people have been asking me what I want, or what I want to do, and I have not been able to think of anything. A rousing game of capture the flag came to mind, but I don’t have enough friends in the area to facilitate such a game. Plus most of my friends aren’t as in shape as I am, and would balk at physical activity of that nature, so capture the flag was quickly dismissed. One can only convince one’s friends to suffer to a point, after all, and when the distinct possibility of myocardial infarction rears its ugly head, even the best birthday party can go sour in a New York minute.

I have at last decided what I will in fact do on my birthday, and any and all of you are welcome to come over to the Tiki Room I call a living room and join in. And what, pray tell, will we do?

We will watch old horror films. Lots and lots of old horror films.

With the recent release, and my subsequent purchase, of the 1945 classic House of Dracula on DVD, I at last have a complete set of the classic Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolfman films Universal Studios made in the 1930s and 1940s. These are all fine films, and not the campy over-produced/ under-scripted mess that Van Helsing is reported to be. Sooooo….come one come all, and spend May 25th watching Boris Karlofff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Claude Raines, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Ralph Bellamy, Colin Clive, and a host of other stars of yesteryear, act spooky.

The probable line-up for Tuesday (don’t freak, a lot of these movies are barely an hour long):

Bride of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein
Ghost of Frankenstein
The Wolf Man
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
House of Frankenstein
House of Dracula
The Mummy

I’ll start watching at about 1:00 PM and should finish by about 2:00 am or so. I’ll make lots of food and snacks and what not. We can wear party hats if you wish, and have cake and ice cream. Somehow I doubt anyone other than Fizzy will show up, and she’ll only be there out of girlfriend obligation. Nobody digs the old horror films anymore, but just in case YOU do, you’re welcome to pop on by.


Derrick’s Depth, or Kurt’s Poor English Skills?

By , May 12, 2004

Derrick: And he looked in my eyes and he said, “I don’t understand you.” Isn’t that amazing, that he saw how complex I am?

Mary: Maybe he just didn’t understand you.

Derrick: What do you mean?

Mary: You said he didn’t understand English very well. Maybe he just… didn’t understand you.


Movies What That I Like

By , March 29, 2004

For no good reason I sat and listed the 85 films I like best of all the films I’ve seen.Then I pared the list down to 40. Then I ranked them. This is what I came up with:

01 The Seven Samurai
02 Pulp Fiction
03 North by Northwest
04 Trainspotting
05 The Lady Eve
06 The Sting
07 The Shawshank Redemption
08 The Philadelphia Story
09 The Hudsucker Proxy
10 O Brother, Where Art Thou?
11 Die Hard
12 Unforgiven
13 The Maltese Falcon
14 The Matrix
15 Jackie Brown
16 Gross Pointe Blank
17 Christmas in July
18 Predator
19 Ed Wood
20 The Seventh Seal
21 The City of Lost Children
22 Goodfellas
23 True Romance
24 Amélie
25 The Man Who Knew Too Much
26 Hail the Conquering Hero
27 Auntie Mame
28 Murder, My Sweet
29 Midnight Run
30 Double Indemnity
31 How to Steal a Million
32 Bringing Up Baby
33 Touch of Evil
34 Casablanca
35 A Day at the Races
36 Office Space
37 Rio Bravo
38 Fight Club
39 Gladiator
40 This Gun For Hire

I bet I forgot some good ones, but whatever. They are all movies what that I like.

Today’s Question: What are your favorite films?


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