Tuesday, April 30, 2013



Director/Screenplay: Thomas McCarthy

"The Visitor", I realize now, is one of the most absorbing films made in the last decade. It's both sad, yet beautiful, one of those rare films that you can get swept up in every time it's on. The story is so odd and the cast of characters so widespread and international, that it's one of those stories that can only take place in New York City. That's part of it's appeal, that even though we may sense or even know what's coming, it takes such a strange path to get there, that you keep watching, and wonder such things as, "How did they even think of this idea, and these characters, and who'd bring them together like this?"

Walter (Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins) plays a Connecticut professor, who's wife, a former classical pianist, has recently passed. He's tried in vain to learn the piano, but even his teacher tells him that it's not worth pursuing. He's tired of being a professor, and spends his days, supposedly writing some book, and uses it as an excuse to get out of everything, and retain his privacy. One time, he can't get out of presenting a paper that he co-wrote in New York City. He's kept a never-used apartment in Manhattan, but when he arrives, there's people living there. Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) is a Syrian, who's lived in the country for a few years, and his wife, Zainab (Dania Guirab) is a Senagalese woman. They realize that somebody must've taken advantage of them, and begin to leave, but Walter, allows them to stay. He hasn't been to the apartment in 25 years either, and after he presents his paper, he won't remain there he figures. Then, he gets interested in the African drum, which Tarek plays. The straight tagline, of old college professor finds new life playing the African drum, alone, would make a very interesting film yet, "The Visitor", refuses to be that simplistic. It refuses to give us characters that simplistic. On the way back from a gig in the park, Tarek is taken by authorities at the subway, they're claiming that he's an illegal alien, and that he didn't renew his visa, and he's being detained, in this post 9/11 New York. Walter visits him, and gets him a lawyer to look in on the case. Tarek's mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass) soon arrives, and begins staying at the apartment as well, as Walter begins a laborious back-and-forth from Connecticut, where he continues to try to learn the drum and rhythm of the African music from CDs,  as he sleepwalks through classes, before finally taking a leave of absence. There's a tender scene between Zainab and Mouna, after Walter introduces the two, and in that moment, we get two people who care deeply about the same person, frightened, worried, grief-stricken, as they both discover this other part of Tarek's life together. Walter and Mouna, don't begin a sexual relationship, per se, but an adult relationship, that's filled with dinners, Broadway shows and drinks, and both of them, coming to epiphanies about their lives.

Mouna: What are you going to do now?

Walter: I don't know.

Mouna: Feel good not knowing, doesn't it?

It's these quiet exchanges, and this quiet performance by Jenkins. Before this film, he was a go-to character actor, probably best known for playing the dead father on "Six Feet Under" occasionally. He can be an overly outgoing, rambunctious and exhuberant actor but here, there's not a single showy scene in Jenkins work, and the littlest movements reveal tons of emotions, and when he finally does implode, you can tell that he hasn't felt anything this emotional in years. All the actors actually are good in the film however. there's no showy performance. There's nothing bad in this film. The lighting is beautiful, as I realize on multiple viewings. It may be a paceful film, but the editing is damn near perfect. Every single scene and plot development in "The Visitor" is absolutely essential to the film working. It takes it's time, to tell it's story, but if you took one part out, or throw one extra thing in, the whole film wouldn't work. In a way, this is one of those miracle films, where everything had to go perfect, and did. The script is great, but it needs the right actors, the actors are great, but it needs the right setting, the right look, the right feel, at it's core, "The Visitor" is a tonal piece, musically and emotionally.

The film was written and directed by Tom McCarthy, who's himself an intriguing character. He's a character actor in roles so small and so innocuous, you could've seen everything he's ever been in, and still not be able to pick him out of a lineup of one. Insiders know that he's one of the best writer/directors in independent film today, and recently he got an Oscar nomination as a co-writer on Disney/Pixar's film, "Up". His first directorial feature was the wonderful "The Station Agent" with Peter Dinklage as a loner train enthusiast, who reluctantly befriends an eccentric food server, in Bobby Cannavale, and a suicidal painter in Patricia Clarkson, after he moves into an abandoned New Jersey train depot. His latest film was "Win-Win" with Paul Giamatti as an attorney an occasional wrestling coach, becomes a legal guardian of an Alzheimer's patient to collect the money, only to have the patient's runaway grandson look for him, who happens to be a skilled amateur wrestler. All three films, in a way, are comedies, but comedies of human behavior, but they all also have the plot, where characters from different life experiences, places and backgrounds, suddenly through unintended or unusual circumstances, end up together. This is probably why he doesn't choose the most well-known of movie stars for his movies, they wouldn't seem believable, and besides that, his characters are real characters, not some random, paint-by-numbers parts that Hollywood writes for actors. He gets the best actors, and gives them the parts of their lifetime. Watching "The Visitor" again recently for the sixth or seventh time, I realize how much we care about these characters, and strangely, how timely it is now. What happens to Tarek and Mouna, not just, whether they find each other back in Syria, but what's happening to them now, that there's a Civil War there? It's sad knowing that Tarek, now of all times, couldn't be allowed back into America. But I also feel happy, knowing that Walter, is probably still in that Subway stop, playing the African drum, not for money, but because that's who he is now. Maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit, adding this film to my Canon, but how many movies can you think of, that give us so many different emotional responses when we think about them?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

MY LAMMY'S BALLOT! (Yeah, yeah, more time for me to bitch and moan, about how I got f***ed over by the LAMBs)

As some of you may remember, despite my attempts to publicize and pucker to the members of the Large Association of Movie Blogs," I didn't get a LAMMY Nomination this year, and yes, I'm pissed off about it, frankly. I was eligible in seven categories, and didn't get one! Can you fucking believe that! (Frustrated sigh.) Anyway, for those who don't know, the LAMBs, are a community of Movie bloggers.  A link to their webpage, is to the right on the blog here. I joined recently, I'm Lamb #1523. Reluctantly I joined. I always criticized the LAMBs, because while they're a great publicizing tool, and help get your name out there and communicate with other bloggers, I always though that the LAMBs, spent a little too much time on blogs more than it did the movies, which I always thought seemed odd. You know, special features and blogathons and stuff like that. Anyway, partly out of anger, and partly 'cause I can always use something new to write about, I decided to reveal my LAMMYs ballot. Besides that, why shouldn't I be discussing other blogs, they are my competition. Some I'll bash, most of them legitimately, some 'cause I feel like it. (Alright all of them both) Others, I'll recommend and praise, backhandedly as I vote for them, while piss on them about how this blog is far superior at nearly all of these categories. Anyway, sorry if some are pissed or annoyed by this blog, my intention is to be critical. My mood is pissed and annoyed, there's a difference.

Anyway, here's my Lammy ballot:

French Toast Sunday (LAMB #727)
Bonjour Tristesse (LAMB #820)
Man, I Love Films (LAMB #1000)
Cinematic Corner (LAMB #1208)
The Cinematic Katzenjammer (LAMB #1284)

Well, I'm not gonna pretend to be any kind of expert on blog design. (I know, mine needs some work, and I'm working on it, or at least debating myself about it) but I'm not crazy about any of these designs, particularly surprised Cinematic Katzenjammer got in here, I don't find their design appealing at all. My vote is going to "Bonjour Tristesse" because they're design, of having their blog look like a filmstrip reel, is inventive, it's also a good blog, and a cool one. Look is good, creative, movie themed, design is simple, it's easy to find stuff on there; I think this is a more-than-deserving choice.

PREFERENCE: "Bonjour Tristesse" (LAMB #820)

French Toast Sunday (LAMB #727)
3 Guys 1 Movie (LAMB #1098)
The Cinematic Katzenjammer (LAMB #1284)
Today I Watched a Movie (LAMB #1313)
Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop (LAMB #1351)

You know, I've been wanting to discuss rating systems anyway, 'cause to many of them, are just ridiculous. Here's my view on movie ratings, Siskel & Ebert, may they rest in peace, got it right. Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, two options, that was it. Like it, or don't like it, but not done simplistically or stupid, like Yes or No, or Hot or Not, or whatever. It was classy, it was an action, so it's personal, giving a thumbs up, it's a movement. It's symbolic, it's historical, it dates back to Roman times, it was absolutely perfect, nothing will top it, and nobody else can use it unfortunately. I respect that, so I understand that some want to find some other way of giving a rating, but some of these are ridiculous. I mean, percentages are dumb. How do you watch a movie and think, "I give it an 83%". What the hell is that? Even on What the Flick? on youtube, I love watching those critics, 'cause I respect them immensely, but they don't just do it out of ten points, they do it out of 10, including a decimal! There's literally 110 possible ratings each critic can give a movie, at least, and then they do an average on a calculator. That's ridiculous, I know we can't use the thumbs, but keep it simple. I use the 5 STARS system, and frankly, I don't even like using that, 'cause it's more complicated than ratings systems should be. But, it gets the point across, including halves, there's only eleven scores I can give a movie, I don't have to overanalyze; I can actually enjoy a film-. It shouldn't be about the ratings; it should be about the films. That's the first and most important thing. So, with that "French Toast Sunday" and "The Cinematic Katzenjammer" are out."I do like "3 Guys 1 Movie"'s  ratings system, although I think giving something 2 Guys, sounds a little like a slut college chick's night after too much tequila, but at least it's simple. "Today I watched a Movie" is too detailed as well. (I mean, we're taking off points for product placement, right away?) I gotta go with Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop. First of all, great name for a movie blog, their ratings system is basically stars, but it uses pigeons, which is appropriate and funny. It's classy; it's simple, makes sense with the blog. I think it's a cool blog in general, and I really do love the right mix of creativity and simplicity in the ratings systems.

VOTE: "Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop" (LAMB #1351)

Cinematic Paradox (LAMB #613)
Bonjour Tristesse (LAMB #820)
Film Actually (LAMB #959)
And So It Begins... (LAMB #1006)
The Awards Circuit (LAMB #1411)

There's no nominee here that's particularly bad, although I'm a little surprised "And So It Begins..." got in, (Especially since I didn't get in!) but to me, the two clear best are "Bonjour Tristesse" and "The Awards Circuit", and, as much as I love "Bonjour Tristesse", especially the way they cover foreign Awards, it's quite special, but "The Awards Circuit" is clearly on another level. Other than GoldDerby.com, they're the only place who covers next years Oscars, all year long, and I actually think there's some validity to there work in doing it. Incredibly extensive, they cover the festival Awards, the cover nearly every award imaginable, in smart and observant detail, I'm very impressed with their work. Gotta go with them, but "Bonjour Tristesse", up against anybody else, would win this easily.

VOTE: "The Awards Circuit" (LAMB #1411)

Soundtrack Geek (LAMB #23)
The Horror Cats (LAMB #1071)
Exploding Helicopter (LAMB #1183)
Poster Collective (LAMB #1349)
The Great Katharine Hepbrurn (LAMB #1391)

Movie element blog? Well, there's certainly some weird things that people like to focus on. Some of them, are very detailed in minutia. I mean, really, blogs devoted to cats in horror films, and even stranger, a site devoted to movie with exploding helicopters? Okay, the latter one is actually, fairly cool, but still, only marginally interesting. Soundtrack Geek's been around for a while, one of the oldest LAMBs to get a nomination, but honestly, I can only stand soundtracks, in a very limited basis. The site actually bothers me a bit too, very confusing on the page. The two of these sites, I rather do enjoy are "Poster Collective" and "The Great Katharine Hepburn". "Poster Collective", a site dedicated to movie posters, actually takes that narrow subject, and manages to extend it and discuss the subject rather well. While I enjoy looking at it's lists of "19 Awesomely Bizarre Movie Posters from Ghana", and the such, I appreciate how the site looks at movie posters as much of an art form as most of us do movies. However, saying that, I think I have to vote for "The Great Katharine Hepburn". Frankly, it's a richer subject matter, the blog is very well-designed, and frankly, with it's constant discussion of not just Hepburn, but of her influence and importance in terms of the role of feminism in Hollywood, I find the articles incredibly rich to read. It may focus on Hepburn, but it's clearly by a blogger who knows about cinema in it's entirety, especially classic Hollywood cinema, and that's what I really appreciate with the blog.

VOTE: "The Great Katharine Hepburn" (LAMB #1391)

Random Ramblings of a Demented Door Vlog (AKA The Vlog) (LAMB #17)
Full Moon Reviews (LAMB #169)
And Seen (LAMB #1128)
Movies in the Mancave (LAMB #1141)
"Invasion of the B Movies"-Your Face (LAMB #1500)

There were only seven Vlogs eligible for this Award, and I ran through all of them, and I don't think I found five that were worth nominating. "Random Ramblings..." just ended as a vlog, so that's probably got the sympathy vote, but I found it too long, and too much rambling. "Full Moon Reviews" is poorly shot and edited, and frankly shouldn't exist, since the way he reviews movies, it's much better written than spoken. I thoroughly enjoy "And Seen", a Vlog that I follow on Youtube, and it's thoroughly interesting and funny, and I enjoy Julie and Tracy quite a bit. "Movies in the Mancave", is also a Vlog, I like, because both guys are interesting to hear, and have them debate. However, they rarely vlog, their last one was seven months ago, and they're movie knowledge, I find somewhat limiting, albeit interesting. "Invasion of the B Movies", is moderately intriguing at times, but is still basically a guy with a camera in his home, alone, and that's can only be interesting for so long. A bit of choice between "And Seen" and "Movies in the Mancave", for me, but consistency and constant entertainment value, to me, it's "And Seen", and the easy pick here.

VOTE: "And Seen"

Dan Fogarty-"Fogs' Movie Reviews" (LAMB #1133)
Sam Fragoso-"Movie Mezzanine (LAMB #843)
Dan Heaton-"Public Transportation Snob" (LAMB #1005)
Bonjour Tristesse-"Bonjour Trsistesse" (LAMB #820)
Alex Withrow-"An So It Begins"-(LAMB #1006)

Well, this was clearly the category I should've been in most. There aren't that many people that know as much about film as I do, and well, yeah, this one pisses me off. I advertise about my intelligent blogs, and critical essays, and btw, there's a lot less research that goes into both, my reviews and commentaries, than some would believe. I'm not only knowledgeable, I'm incredibly quick-witted with my intelligence. (6 years of Varsity Quiz, put to good use.) Anyway, Sam Fragoso seems like an intelligent guy, actually, he's a kid I hear, editor-in-chief of "Movie Mezzanine", but he rarely writes much more than recommendations and updates on the site. Not sure he should be considered too highly for Knowledgeable Writer. Then again, how should we determine that? How do you reveal your movie intelligence in your writing anyway, and what if you don't write to show how knowledgeable you are, but are in fact, far more knowledgeable than you let on? Yeah, unless we all play a tournament of Movie "Jeopardy!", I don't know how to fully judge this category. I don't know if "Bonjour Tristesse" for instance, is more knowledgeable, but she clearly has knowledge, that I don't have, which is why I look towards her a lot. I like Dan Heaton's work, I don't know if "knowledgeable" the right word however, but he's smart, I enjoy reading him. You know, I do read, "And So It Begins", but I don't really rank that blog this high in general. He does a lot of actor profiles, with occasional movie reviews, and half the time, it seems like he's going to imdb, and going down a filmography and making comments, about the few things he knows about. It's a lot more than it looks like, but as a blogger, I'm very surprised he's here, so prominently. Dan Fogarty, correctly identified my blog as "Massively Underrated" on his blog, when I plugged my blog on his site, when he recently asked us to plug, so I know he has some intelligence. He also just friended me on FB, he's got an eye for talent, that's for sure. I don't know, but I think I gotta go with "Bonjour Tristesse", not only because of her (I'm assuming her, might be wrong) vast knowledge, but also because she seems to have a lot of knowledge that not only I don't have, but others don't have, and that's really what tips it to her for me.

VOTE: Bonjour Tristesse-"Bonjour Tristesse" (LAMB #820)

At the Back (LAMB #1279)
The Cinematic Katzenjammer (LAMB #1284)
Marked Movies (LAMB #1287)
The Focused Filmographer (LAMB #1299)
Keith & The Movies (LAMB #1304)
Today I Watched a Movie (LAMB #1313)
Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop (LAMB #1351)
The Cinematic Spectacle (LAMB #1360)
Head In A Vice (LAMB #1381)
Rorschach Reviews (LAMB #1415)
On Page and Screen (LAMB #1533)

Another category I got screwed out of. Which sucks, 'cause this is one I really wanted. It's the LAMMY equivalent of the "Best New Artist" Grammy, you only get the one shot at winning it, you know? And it's sucks, 'cause I'm definitely better than a few of these blogs, but only one blog, with a higher lamb number than me, got nominated. Anyway, I'm P.O.ed, but I'm playing the game, and I'm moving on. I'm not gonna comment on all of these, but I gotta say, I can't figure out why "The Cinematic Katzenjammer"'s gotten all these nominations. There's a lot of work put into it, I'll give it that, I'm sure I can find a decent article or review if I look long enough, but it's basically, it's not even a blog, it's like a second-tier Deadline or Variety or something. It's a bunch of news, all of which I heard yesterday, most of which they're making a big deal out of when they shouldn't. There's a trailer section, (Some of my longtime readers know my thoughts on blogs that go all boner on trailers), they have a DVD section, a Box Office section, talk about unimportant. The podcast is pretty good, but I don't think it's a blog; it feels like Movie Drawer, or one of those other, or one of these second-tier entertainment news sites. I don't get it. I like "Marked Movies" and "Keith & the Movies" quite a bit, especially "Keith..."'s reviews. "The Cinematic Spectacle," I love the design, and I enjoy reading it, but a little too list-obsessed for me. I know I like to reign in that obsessive tick of mine in, he puts it out there, and that's fine, but every week there seems to be some new list, and that gets on my nerves a bit. Still a good blog though. "Head in a Vice", I wasn't a big fan of, originally, but I'm starting to turn around on it; I really enjoyed their review of "Compliance". "On Page and Screen" I like as well, could use a little more seasoning, but a well-done blog, that doesn't just review movies either.  Tough call, but I think I'm gonna go with "Marked Movies" for having a little bit more of everything I like in a blog, but there's some good ones here, although more than a few that aren't that good, and that makes me more annoyed that I got passed over.

VOTE: "Marked Movies"

Bond Month Blog-a-thon-"Fogs Movie Reviews (LAMB #1133)
The Most F**ked Up Movies You're Ever Seen Blogathon-"The Cinematic Katzenjammer" (LAMB #1284)
Movie Confessions Blogathon-"My Filmviews" (LAMB #790)
My Movie Alphabet-"Metter Ray Movie Blog (LAMB #1168)
Small Roles, Big Performances Blogathron-"FlixChatter" (LAMB #612)

How did "Movie Jail Relay Race," not get nominated here? I thought that was gonna win this Award easily, and it didn't even get nominated, I'm quite stumped by that one, originally. BTW, I have yet to get asked to participate in these, and I would be more than happy to, if somebody asked! (HINT, HINT!) Alright, I like "Fogs..." normally, but I wasn't as crazy for the "Bond Movie Blog-a-thon", but it was good. I don't want to pick on "...Katzenjammer", but "The Most F**ked Up Movies...", that should've been better than it was, and turned out. Not as interesting as it should've been, good name though. Didn't care for "My Movie Alphabet", or the "Small Roles..." one, so I have to go with "Move Confessions Blogathon", which is the only  one of the nominees, that wasn't just a good idea, it was also, incredibly well-done, and intriguing. Gives us, a look into a film blogger's insight, through what they haven't seen, and it was very popular and extensive, very well done blogathon, and I would love to participate in it, in the future, (Wink, Wink!)

VOTE: My Movie Confessions Blogathon-"My Filmviews" (LAMB #790)

Big Thoughts From a Small Mind (LAMB #410)
French Toast Sunday (LAMB#727)
The Film Emporium (LAMB #813)
Bonjour Tristesse (LAMB #820)
Fogs' Movie Reviews (LAMB #1133)

Well, I was also eligible in this category, although I wasn't completely surprised I missed this one, (Although my coverage of the Las Vegas Film Festival, was pretty damn good, especially that whole, suddenly-interviewing-the-Mafia, part) especially after looking at these nominees. There's basically two kinds of Festival and Convention coverage, there's the cover all of the events, kind like "Big Thoughts From a Small Mind", and "Bonjour Tristesse", and then there's the more personal, POV, Hunter S. Thompson-esque coverage of "Fogs' Movie Review" and "French Toast Sunday". I liked the latter a lot, but that was only covering one festival, and maybe that's geography and availability like me, but when I look at "Big Thoughts...", and this has been to everything in the Toronto area, I mean, shit, that's a lot of Festival Coverage. Same with "The Film Emporium". "Bonjour Tristesse," I've also expressed liking their coverage, it doesn't come off as 1st person POV, and feels like a lot of well-done research. So, it's a bit of a toss-up with me, between "Big Thoughts..." and "The Film Emporium". It's just a judgement call, they're pretty similar, but I prefer "Big Thoughts..." just a little than "...Emporium"

VOTE: "Big Thoughts From a Small Mind" (LAMB #410)

As You Watch-"The Vern's Video Vanguard (LAMB #1222), "Two Dude Reviews" (LAMB #1223), and "The Cinematic Katzenjammer" (LAMB #1284)
French Toast Sunday-"French Toast Sunday" (LAMB #727)
The MILFcast (aka the Man, I Love Films Podcast)-"Man, I Love Films"-(LAMB #1000)
Reel Insight-Lamb Podcasting Network
The (Title Pending) Movie Podcast With Tank and Fogs-"Fogs Movie Reviews-(LAMB #1133)

Well, first of all I don't want to antagonize anybody in case I ever get invited onto a podcast, or start one myself, but I rarely have time to listen to podcasts. There's a few I've heard, I tend to start tuning in around Oscar time, to hear some thoughts on nominees and such, although a lot of times I do it at my own risk, in case they spoil a movie or two for me, but they can be good. They're a little too time-consuming for me. I have heard a couple of these here and there. "As You Watch", is one I actually like quite a bit. I'm eliminating "Reel Insight" because it doesn't exist anymore, and beside the two girls are actually better when they guest podcast on "The MILFcast". I like "Fogs Movie Reviews" as a website, not crazy about the podcast however. Too much talk about box office, and other entertainment news stuff for me. I find the more interesting podcasts, seem to be ones, that do a little news and update, but mostly, they take the time to find new topics every week, to discuss between it's podcasters, I find them more interesting. "French Toast Sunday", I'm listening to now. I think it's a decent podcast; I don't know though, next to "As You Watch" or "The MILFcast", it kinda feels like the Merchant-Ivory film, next to the Tarantino movies at the video store. It's there, you know it's good, but you're not in a hurry to see it. Tough call between "As You Watch," and "The MILFcast"; I'm going with "The MILFcast", seems more fun, high energy, I like the games they play and conversations they have. I don't know if any of these relate to me, from my kind of cinephile perspective, but entertainment-wise, I can listen to "The MILFcast" occasionally, when I'm not judging it for the LAMMYs.

VOTE: The MILFcast (aka The Man, I Love Films Podcast)-"Man, I Love Films"-(LAMB #1000)

Goregirl's Dungeon (LAMB #329)
The Girl Who Love Horror (LAMB #785)
The B-Horror Blog (LAMB #867)
Cinema Schiminema (LAMB #1395)
Rhino's Horror (LAMB #1412)
Your Face! (LAMB #1500)

Best Horror blog? Eeney, Meanie, Miney, Moe, Catch a- Alright, I'm not gonna do that. You know, personally, when I think of people, who love a genre, or something really specific- When someone says, "I really like Zombie movies!", I think, "Well, that's a little too specific." Glad, you do, hope you like other stuff. Or look for action, or comedy.... I look for good. Other than that, I'm not looking for something specific, in a film. I can go online, and see zombies anytime, or whatever, I look for more than that. Horror fans, that's like the only genre, that I look at as a fetish. Now, there's great horror and bad horror, and everything in between, but you're looking for rigidly-structure format, and certain things that are appealing to people, whether it makes sense or not, so I'm always a little behind in this genre, as many of my friends have often pointed out. Saying that though, I do subscribe to a few horror-themed blogs, a few of them are quite interesting, and deal with a lot of different kinds of horror. I gotta say, this is a tough category, maybe the toughest I've had to pick from so far, 'cause there's a lot of good blogs here. I gotta give props to "Cinema Schiminena", for putting Joss Whedon in movie jail in the "Movie Jail Relay Race", kudos; I wish he stayed in, even though, I'm pretty sure you like him way more than I do (Which, almost describes everybody it seems like some days), but if you hadn't done it, I would've. (and still might if it ever comes to me)  "Rhino's Horror", I'm not crazy about, and "Your Face!" is good, but a little bit disorienting, overloaded for me. I'm torn between "Goregirls' Dungeon" and "The Girl Who Loves Horror", they're both really good, entertaining blogs, but I think I'm gonna go with "Goregirl's Dungeon", and it's really just a slight preference, because I think I'm more inclined towards Goregirl's taste in horror, but it's a coin flip really.

VOTE: "Goregirl's Dungeon"

DVD Court-"The Cinematic Katzenjammer" (LAMB #1284)
Fun With Netflix Viewer Reviews-"The Droid You're Looking For" (LAMB #937)
In Character-"And So It Begins (LAMB #1006)
Movies That Everyone Should See-"Fogs' Movie Reviews" (LAMB #1133)
Visual Parallels-"Cinematic Corner" (LAMB #1208)

My "Canon of Film" series, was not nominated for Best Running Feature, when it should've been, and yes I am pissed at that, however, after this "Fantasy Filmmaking" series I began recently, I have a feeling that by continuing on that series, this upcoming year, even sporadically, we may be on here next year, twice. Anyway, I'm a little surprised by some of these. DVD Court, I don't care for. You know, can we agree that, if it's a good movie, it's a good DVD?! I mean, I know there's special edition DVDs and stuff, but it's just another way of judging a film, I don't find it inventive or interesting to gimmick up DVDs separately, or to trivialize them as "Burn It," "Rent It", "Buy It', or whatever. Don't like that one at all. Don't like "Fun With Netflix...", it's a cute little thing, kinda like a Jay Leno "Headlines" bit, but it's just cutting and pasting really. The "Movies That Everyone Should See", is sorta like my "Canon of Film", but I like it, it's often a little over-detailed, but it's a good piece. "In Character", is also, a little cut-and-paste, but I do enjoy that one, especially when it's an interesting actor. Sometimes, I think it's a little useless looking through some actors, portfolios, 'cause unless you're Will Smith or Tom Hanks, or whomever, you're taking the parts that are offered more or less, and that's a good thing, but I'm not big on, placing an auteur theory-level analysis on actors, but it is fun. "Visual Parallels" should be better than it is; there's some great similar kinds of analysis on the web, about the visual technique of film, but that's not one of them. It does analysis, but really it's just, "Hey, these two are similar, see?" type work. Should be better. Anyway, a disappointing selection; I should be here next year. Toss up with me between "In Character", and "Movies That Everyone Should See", hmm. You know, I'm gonna take "In Character," despite some of my criticisms about it, I think it's a good idea, and a nice way, to honor people who are incredibly talented, and there's a severe lack of foreign language films, in "Movies..." milieu, and that's not a problem, I think every film, is at least, arguably, a film that should belong in such a category, but such a list, should also include things, that aren't as widely available, and really tell people, "You Should See This!", especially when it might not be something, that perhaps, a lot of people haven't seen. So, just because, it's a little too narrow comparatively, overall, I'm gonna with "In Character".

VOTE: In Character-"And So It Begins" (LAMB #1006)

Where Danger Lives (LAMB #299)
Criterion Reflections (LAMB #683)
100 Years of Movies (LAMB #742)
Journeys In Classic Film (LAMB #1267)
Once Upon a Screen (LAMB #1390)

This is another tough category with a bunch of good nominees. A couple are interesting gimmicks, such as "Criterion Reflections" which has a guy go through, the entire Criterion Collection, one film at a time, that's an interesting challenge. I've thought of doing that a few times, myself; good luck with that. "100 Years of Film, seems like an even more daunting task, as he goes through movies made in each of the last one hundred years, one year at a time. I love the design for "Journey in Classic Films", that's a beautiful, and a good substantive one. There's not a blog here I don't like; these are all quality nominations. I guess, if we're talking, an overall look, at Classic films, than I guess I'd have to narrow it down to "Journeys in Classic Film", and "Once Upon a Screen",.... I thought by writing that, that it would become easier for me to narrow to one, and it's not. (Sigh.) Alright, I think I'll pick-, Damn, these are good blogs. Eh, "Once Upon a Screen", but this is a dead-even tie, and if it was up to me, both would be nominated for "Best Blog", and not only "Best Classic Film Blog".

VOTE: "Once Upon a Screen" (LAMB #1390)

Tyson Carter-"Head in a Vice" (LAMB #1381)
Dan-"Dan the Man's Movie Reviews (LAMB #545)
Dan Fogarty-"Fogs' Movie Reviews (LAMB #1133)
Dan Heaton-"Public Transportation Snob (LAMB #1005)
Jessica-"The Velvet Cafe" (LAMB #1163)
Nick Powell-"The Cinematic Katzenjammer" (LAMB #1284)
Lady Sati-"Cinematic Corner (LAMB #1208)
Chris Thomson-"Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop" (LAMB #1351)
Mark Walker-"Marked Movies (LAMB #1287)
Alex Withrow-"And So It Begins..." (LAMB #1006)

(Frustrated, heavy-breathed scoff!) Well, obviously, I'm a better movie review/critic than every one of these nominees. Not that some aren't bad, but c'mon? I should have won this award, in terms of both quality and quantity, but I digress, hold in my frustration over this, and I'll use it for the next time my Phillies lose. (Another heavy-breathed sigh) Well, there's a few almost-as-good-as-me, critics here. Tyson Carter can be good, I particularly like his review of "Compliance," but he's very inconsistent. "Dan The Man..." is a favorite of mine, who I often comment on his FB posts, he's quite an intriguing critic, although he's still struggling by using too many "I think..." instead of "The film is..." type sentences, but he's good. Dan Fogarty, very good critic, great personality in his reviews, I particularly like his reviews based on "Reader's Recommendations", (which, btw I do take requests, and I keep track of them, I just can't always get to the films immediately, but I remember....) they're interesting reviews because they have that two-person contrast that I appreciate out of reviews, by giving the recommender a chance to explain why the film should be seen. Not many criticisms of his reviews, even when I disagree. Heaton's a good critic, but I'm not crazy about how he structures his reviews; it's done more like coverage than an actual movie reviews. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's a little like reading a bunch of essays, all written in Jane Shaffer structure, it's gets repetitive and boring. Just reading Jessica's latest entry on "Velvet Cafe",  entitled "Should film critics disclose their naps?", lets me know immediately that I like her as a critic. (And btw, the answer is yes, if the movie is the 'cause of your nap, and maybe, the rest of the time.)  It's hard for me to even go back and find reviews of Nick Powell on "The Cinematic Katzenjammer", Most of them seem lengthful, and well-thought out but, when I read them, it feels like he's filling the reviews, with lots of over-descriptive sentences that basically are, like he's saying the same thing about the movie, just in a different way each paragraph. Must have a good thesaurus. I enjoy Lady Sati at times, not always though. I like Chris Thomson a lot, not only because he's a good reviewer, but also because he's really knowledgeable about film and filmmaking, definitely enjoy his opinion, although the "Quickie" reviews he occasionally does, eh, kinda bothers me. I mean, it's not the size of the review, it's the quality, right? I'm throwing out Mark Walker, right away, because in his review of "Frankenweenie," he mentions that one of the few times Burton's directed animation, was his '84 short film "Frankenweenie". (It would take taken two minutes, most, to look it up, and know that the original short was live-action.) Alex Withrow, I like a lot, but reviewing isn't his strong suit, and really is a secondary focus on his blog, as it should be. I think Fogarty and Thomson, are the two I'm most leaning towards. I like Fogarty a lot, but Thomson is really a good critic, knows how to write, knowledgeable about details, and gets his opinions across really well, I gotta go with Thomson.

VOTE: Chris Thomson-"Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop" (LAMB #1287)

Tyson Carter-"Head in a Vice" (LAMB #1381)
Dan Fogarty-"Fogs' Movie Reviews" (LAMB #1133)
Jessica-"The Velvet Cafe" (LAMB #1163)
Ruth Maramis-"Flixchatter" (LAMB #612)
Nick Powell-"The Cinematic Katzenjammer (LAMB #1284)

Well, I'm not exactly fond of "Community Building" to begin with. Frankly, I'm not even sure it's a good idea, even regarding actual communities, but it's important for building a strong website. Dan Fogarty just PM'ed asking if I had voted yet, so he's definitely someone who cares about building a community, and he'd probably be my vote anyway. He's one of the few bloggers who I constantly read and contribute comments to, so my opinion my be somewhat bias here, but I think he clearly deserves it; he's good at getting people together. I'll give props to Jessica too, she's another who I'll probably be inclined to help. Anyway, if you can get me involved, you're a good community builder, let's put it that way.

VOTE: Dan Fogarty-"Fogs' Movie Reviews" (LAMB #1133)

Just Chick Flicks (LAMB #237)
Action Flick Chick (LAMB #252)
Bonjour Tristesse (LAMB #820)
Flights, Tights and Movie Nights (LAMB #1240)
Life Between Films (LAMB #1248)

I'm a little concerned that there's so many horror fans on the internet, that all other genre blogs get shoved into their own category. That said, I hope that the bloggers in this category put as much work into their blogs as the horror writers tend to do. "Just Chick Flicks" seems close to that, with some good pieces here and there, especially in the classic film section. "Action Flick Chick" pays too much attention to trailers for me. I've spoken at large already on "Bonjour Tristesse," and their focus on foreign and cult cinema is quite overwhelming and good. "Flights, Tights and Movie Nights" is a good superhero film blog, but that's a little narror a genre for me, although it's got its moments. "Life Between Movies", an Indy Film blog,  is done by an 8-year old, now and 11-year old, who's better than most of these nominees, and that's just, Hell. She's been doing this twice as long as I have, and she's less than half my age! WTF! I hate/love her already, although her blogs needs a little design work, but fuck, she's an 11-year-old! Some of us should be ashamed of ourselves knowing that an 11-year old is this good, but "Bonjour Tristesse" is definitely better than her, and more clearly so than the other nominees are, so I'm voting for them this time.

VOTE: "Bonjour Tristesse"

Dylan Fields-"Man I Love Films" (LAMB #1000)
Dan Fogarty-"Fogs' Movie Reviews" (LAMB #1133)
John LaRue-"The Droid You're Looking For" (LAMB #937)
Lady Sati-"Cinematic Corner" (LAMB #1208)
The Vern-"The Vern's Video Vanguard" (LAMB #1222)

Well, I'm funnier than all of these guys, but since my name wasn't submitted in this category, I wasn't even eligible for this one. Not that I write my blogs in a comedic style too often, but, I am a comedy writer by trade, you'd think that would've come through in my work. But, I thought we we're looking for writers, who go out of their way to be funny. Anyway, I'm pissed at this category. It's a hard category to even determine come to think of it. Dylan Fields was mentioned, correctly by Kai, that he's the third funniest person on the MILFcast, and frankly, I agree. (Heather Baxendale should've been nominated). I like Fogarty a lot, but funny? Maybe on the podcast a little, but hmm. John LaRue can be funny, although I think sometimes, it's as much found humor as it is his own, (Note my complaint with "Fun with Netflix Viewer Reviews"'s nomination for Running Feature) but a lot of his stuff is quite inventive. Lady Sati is intriguing, but no, she's only occasionally funny. Vern seems funny as a person, but I don't think he's particularly funny without someone to play off of, on his podcast(s), and his blog is just okay. Yeah, very weak field; definitely gonna make sure I get nominated for this category next year (NTS: Better get more banana peels to slip on) but I'm going with John LaRue here.

VOTE: John LaRue-"The Droid You're Looking For" (LAMB #937)

FlixChatter (LAMB #612)
French Toast Sunday (LAMB #727)
Bonjour Tristesse (LAMB #820)
The Droid You're Looking For (LAMB #937)
Man, I Love Films (LAMB #1000)
And So It Begins... (LAMB #1006)
3 Guys 1 Movie (LAMB #1098)
Fogs' Movie Reviews (LAMB #1133)
The Velvet Cafe (LAMB #1163)
Cinematic Corner (LAMB #1208)
The Cinematic Katzenjammer (LAMB #1284)

Well, here's the big one. Another category, I amazingly got snubbed for in favor of many far less superior blogs. Anyway, I thought about narrowing the field here, to blogs I voted for in other categories, but that's not completely fair. Some blogs may be really good at some things, but extremely lacking in others, so just because I like the rating system, doesn't mean I should vote for it here. (Although if "Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop" was nominated here, I'd strongly consider voting for it.) There's a lot of stuff on "French Toast Sunday" I can take an hour or so, walking through the site, although I don't know if all of it's that good. "The Droid You're Looking For" is way too inconsistent for me. You've all heard my criticisms on "The Cinematic Katzenjammer", so I'm not gonna regurgitate that again.  "3 Guys 1 Movie," sorry guys. Good blog, but you're lacking next to the competition here. "Velvet Cafe" is fun, although it has a tendency to sway from movies and entertainment a bit, but even then it's good. Well, I said I'd give "Fogs' Movie Reviews" a couple votes, but I'm starting to think I should limit it to one, because as I go through his blog, it's actually a little bare in material. All of it's good, but much of it is remnants of failed experiment on the blog and such. One category, doesn't even have any blogs to it. (Write some "Random Rants" Dan!) I'm a little surprised myself, but I'm debating between "French Toast Sunday" and "Man I Love Films" right now. Not a lot of "great" on there, but there's a lot of stuff, and all of it, is at least good or very good in some cases. I also can't rule out "Bonjour Tristesse", as it's a great blog, but it is somewhat limited in it's subject matter. What is does cover, is does it great. If anybody wants to bribe me, now would be a great time to do it, btw! Anyone, anyone? Really, no bribing, huh? Well, that's disappointing. (Sigh.) Well then, here's who I plan on beating for Best Blog next year:

VOTE: "French Toast Sunday" (LAMB #727)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I'm hoping that these new followers and readers that I've acquired lately, will be more inclined to participate in my "TEN GREATEST TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME!" poll. We're getting there, slowly but surely, but we're getting towards our goal of 100 participants. We're officially 2/3 the way there with our batch of ballots, and a few of our new ballots came from other critics and bloggers and such, and I know quite a few fellow bloggers are reading my posts, which I happy for, and I hope some of them will start participating, because I will always try to plug everybody. Besides that, I posted my life, why shouldn't other film/entertainment bloggers/critics participate. I let everyone of course participate, but I'm putting myself out there, as one of the entertainment experts and commentators, why shouldn't others, like me, also participate, and reveal our own thoughts, if nothing else, to give such a list like this, credibility. This isn't gonna be equivalent to "Sight & Sound"'s movie poll, I understand that, but still, it'd be nice to has some kind of legitimacy to this list. We've gotten a little, and hopefully, we're gonna get a little more. Just a thought. A couple other critics and bloggers participated this time, and I'm happy that they did, and that's just wanted to say. Anyway, here the latest batch of ballots, and seriously though, 2/3 the way through, still need a lot more:

TRENT ALLGOOD (trentflix.com)
The Wire
The Sopranos
Six Feet Under
Breaking Bad
The Thick of It ('05 Series)
Arrested Development
The IT Crowd
Band of Brothers
State of Play

I Love Lucy
Cheers ('82)
All in the Family
The Sopranos
The Twilight Zone ('59)
The Wonder Years
Saturday Night Live

1. Lost ('04)
2. Breaking Bad
3. Friday Night Lights
4. Veronica Mars
5. The Office ('05, US)
6. The Twilight Zone ('59)
7. Happy Days ('74)
8. Sons of Anarchy
9. The Sopranos
10. South Park

ROB BELOTE (GuysNation.com, guysfilmquest.wordpress.com)
1. Friday Night Lights
2. Scrubs
3. Community
4. Sherlock ('10)
5. The Cosby Show
6. Firefly
7. Mad Men
8. Breaking Bad
9. Batman ('92 Animated Series)
10. Sports Night

Okay, so we're passed the 2/3rds point, 66 ballots in, and there's been a few patterns, but basically it's still, practically ballot-to-ballot which shows are getting top votes or not. "Seinfeld", "M*A*S*H" and "All in the Family", are way ahead for the Top three, but after that, it's just a few votes separating being in the Top 5, to not even being in the Top Ten. In fact, at this moment, on the CURRENT RESULTS, which I'm going to publish, it's actually a Top Eleven, even with the rankings as a tiebreaker, two show are tied for 10th right now. Let's see the CURRENT RESULTS:

1. Seinfeld
2. M*A*S*H
3. All in the Family
4. Cheers ('82)
5. The Sopranos
6. Breaking Bad

7. I Love Lucy
8. The X-Files
9. Sons of Anarchy
10t. Star Trek ('66)
10t. The Twilight Zone ('59)

The vote totals, are really making the first-page results tight. A few extra votes for, let's say "Friends" for instance, and they're in the Top 5, or even outside of that, there's a been few occasions where a show has barely made any ballot up until now, and suddenly, a run of them keeps coming in. That's happening right now with "The Wonder Years" for instance. A second run of votes like that show's had recently, they can jump into the Top Ten. Don't think that somebody else will vote for your favorite shows, so that you don't have to. More and more observations I see. Also, in the essence of "Full Disclosure," I have links to my Movie Reviews on GuysNation.com, which Rob Belote runs, and I also participate in his polls quite often, and he has lately, and I released to him the vote totals to him. He's preparing a system where everybody can start ranking TV shows, the way he allows me and a few others to rank movies. Not completely sure what I think of that, but as for this poll....

We still need more participants. If you or someone you know, would like to participate in the poll, there's many ways to do it. Most people vote on FB, either in an IM to me, or on one of my many links to this blog, by posting your ballots as a comment. One person voted on twitter, my account is @DavidBaruffi_EV, and of course, you can post your ballot in the Comment section of this blog. Some have had complaints with the latter, but anyway that your are able to get me your ballot, get it to me. The more participants the better.

There are a couple rules and they're pretty simple:

RULE #1: As long as it originated on television, it's eligible for the poll, regardless of genre. That means that you can vote for anything you want. Sitcom, drama, talk show, reality show, soap opera, news magazine, children's show, animated show, instructional show, miniseries, TV movie, network, cable,... etc. as long as it originally aired on television, it's eligible. (ie. you can't vote for "M*A*S*H", the original movie, because that was first shown in movie theatres, but you can vote for "M*A*S*H", the TV series, 'cause that aired on TV.)

RULE #2: You must select 10 and ONLY 10 shows. No picking more, no picking less. Just 10.

Other than that, make sure you leave your name, and some way to contact you easily, in case or any ballot irregularities. For instance, some people have accidentally voted for something like "Tom & Jerry" which actually predates television, and was originally aired in theaters in it's original form, anyway. Haven't had too many problems, a few controversial choices, I've let through and whatnot, you can go back and check on previous Poll Update blogs I've done to find out the specifics on those.

Alright, everyone who hasn't submitted, now's your time to do it!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Sorry for the delay this week on the reviews. It's been a busy and troublesome week here. For one thing, I didn't watch as many movies this week, as I and pretty much everybody else spend much of their watching as the bizarre events unfolded in Boston. I'm grateful as is everybody that their caught finally, and generally disgusted at the whole proceedings. I mean, really the Boston Marathon, what the hell was even the point? Well, we're sorry and grieving for those who've been lost, and the dozens who are injured, and we hope that we can put this strange incident behind us.

As for me, however, another reason I couldn't watch as many movies this week is because I was making one. I wrote a short film for somebody, and we were shooting it this week at the UNLV campus. I'll be posting for an editor soon, but I wanted to thank all those who helped us out on the set, truly, they helped us out a lot, and as soon as it's done editing, we'll send out copies for your reels, and I hope we'll all remain friends, and work again someday soon. It was my first producing effort, and it was a lot of work, and a lot of Doritos, and I'd love to do it again someday.

Oh, some of you may be wondering about the LAMMY Awards, which I was eligible for, and unfortunately, I wasn't nominated, and frankly I'm a little pissed off at that. I should've been nominated in a few categories at least, and I'm more than pissed off about it. Congratulations to the nominees, and I will be reluctantly filling out my ballot later, but yeah, I should've been in on some of them. Well, I'll get them next year.

Anyway, busy week, and like every week, there were movies, so let's take a look at this week's RANDOM WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEWS!

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (2012) Director: Stephen Chbowsky


I think the difference between a wallflower, and whatever-the-hell-I-was in high school is that, a wallflower goes to parties and things, when invited (or not) whereas I refused to go. I never read Stephen Chbowsky's book, but I had long heard of it. It's been placed in the modern canon, on the same shelf as J.D. Sallinger's "Catcher in the Rye" and Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar", and now I'm thinking that I missed something having skipped over "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". It's one of those films where you're either gonna have an emotional connection to it, or you're not gonna have any real connection to it. You probably were one of the jocks in high school, who beat up kids like Charlie (Lucas Lerman), or possibly the girl in Advanced English who sat next to him, and called him a faggot everyday. Charlie's had some troubles. He takes medication for it, and writes to a mysterious "Friend" once in a while to discuss his situation, as he counts down, literally all the days left in high school, starting with day one. He's not popular, and when he's not sitting alone at a lunchtable, he lies up against the wall at whatever dance it is. That is, until he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), the only Senior in his shop class, He's quirky and eccentric, and gets in trouble for making fun of the teacher, but he isn't mean, and Charlie spots that, correctly. At a football game, he goes to talk to him, and gets introduced to Sam (Emma Watson). At first, they're so nice and close, Charlie confuses them for a couple, but they're actually half-siblings, and they take a liking to Charlie. They go out to eat, and they take him to parties, where there's Buddhist goths and a rich jean thief, and brownies, and occasionally other drugs. Patrick we learn is gay, and is having a secret affair with Brad (Johnny Simmons) the school's star football player. Sam, is dating a kid in college named Craig (Reece Thompson) who's an obnoxious photographer, but Charlie has a crush on her, and she knows he does too, although so does, the bossy Buddhist Goth, Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman). All these elements would make good or even, interesting high school stories in of themselves, actually, the film doesn't focus on the soap opera and the triviality of hormones and emotions, it deals with the inner pains and struggles, those that aren't obvious, but are carried around them, like heavy shoulders. Charlie started seeing images and had to go to the hospital after his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) died on his birthday, which happens to be Christmas Eve. His older sister Candace's (Nina Dobrev) relationship with Ponytail Derek (Nicholas Braun) is abusive, and she's hiding it from everybody, but Charlie knows, and he remember the abusive relationships Aunt Helen was in all her life. Sam had a very rough freshman year, on top of a father who allowed her to be sexual abused. Still, there's dances, and parties, and drugs, and impromptu performance at "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and relationships starting and ending, and crushes and a surprisingly aware and generous English teacher (Paul Rudd) who always has a new book for Charlie to read. In a particularly rare instance, the novelist, Stephen Chbowsky, not on wrote the screenplay, but directed the film, this is his first feature film directing job since '95, although he's occasionally worked as a screenwriter for hire, like on "Rent", and he created the cult series "Jericho", this is my first introduction to him in any form as an artist, and I am very impressed not only his storytelling, but his filmmaking skills. There are some greats shots here, especially through the Fort Pitt tunnel in Pittsburgh, where the film was shot, and took place. It's unusually well-acted. Ezra Miller, in particular is becoming one of my favorites actors with this part, and his work last year in "We Need to Talk About Kevin", as well as some smaller work he did in "Another Happy Day", I can't wait to see what his next film will be. Emma Watson got a lot of credit for this part, one of her first adult, Post-"Harry Potter" parts, and she is really good here. All three major roles actually, very complicated teenager roles, especially strong. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is strikingly believable as a high school film, as a coming-of-age film, and even the parts that didn't seem as realistic to me about high school, I didn't mind so much. They might not have struck a cord with me, but they feel like they'd strike a cord with friends I knew. I wasn't as open or trying to change my wallflower ways in high school, as I placed my chair in the perfect corner of the cafeteria, next to the Quad, so from outside or inside, I knew nobody would come up from behind me, as I would sit quietly and either study or daydream, occasionally write a bad lyric or two, but to my surprise, people similar in many ways to Patrick and Sam, found me, and friended me, despite my deep resistance. I still didn't go to their drug-fueled parties afterschool, but I didn't sit in that cafeteria very long, or at least it doesn't feel like it was long anymore. There were a lot of things that sucked about high school, and this film gets them right, but more importantly, they get the things that didn't suck right. The parts that were fun and transcendent and life-affirming, as kids have untold stress and pressures that they refuse to talk to their parents about. Well, if you want my recommendation, here it is, this is a movie that makes me want to read the book, and I haven't said that since the original "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", and now I'm looking the book up at my library. Maybe I should've read this one in high school.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012) Director: Martin McDonaugh

3 1/2 STARS

"Seven Psychopaths" is indeed, quite a good title. It's also a rather strange film, although for Martin McDonaugh, it's not really that unusual. He made the funny-as-hell gangster comedy "In Bruges" a couple years ago, that earned him an Oscar nomination, (and he won an Oscar also, for his short film "Six Shooter" before that.) and him, and his brother John Michael McDonaugh, made "The Guard" which is also a bizarre dialogue heavy comedy where a lot people get killed. The story, if one can call it that, begins with Marty (Colin Farrell) a screenwriter, who's struggling to get through his latest script. So far, all he's got is the title, "Seven Psychopaths", and one Buddhist Psychopath. Or Amish, he hasn't decided yet. Obviously, Farrell is playing McDonaugh himself. This film's got a little "Adaptation." in it. At the same time, the Jack of Diamonds killer, is going around killer mid-to-high level mobsters or Yakuza, whoever there, also leaving behind a jack of diamonds. Marty's friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), tries to come up with some psychopaths for him. What few psychopaths he comes up with, Martin doesn't realize that they're actually from other stories someone told him. (Which is called "writing" by the way, but yeah, to those who don't know that, they may think of it incorrectly as stealing.) Billy, works as a con man with Hans (Christopher Walken) an old thief, who runs a dog shelter. Their scheme is to steal dogs that are just lying around the beach, and to keep them until a reward is offered, which is when they drop off the dogs to their owners. Billy steals and Hans returns. Billy is about to go head-on with another psychopath Charlie (Woody Harrelson) the ruthless head mobster killer. Billy has stolen his precious little shih tzu, which causes him to lose his shit, and start killing everybody, starting with his dogwalker Sharice (Gabourey Sidibe). Billy at around this time, places an ad in a  paper searching for psychopaths for Martin to write about. He gets a response by Zachariah (Tom Waits) who carries a pet rabbit around, and was young when he and his beloved Maggie (Amanda Warren, in flashbacks) started killing famous serial killers, but they broke up at some point, and he misses her, and he hopes that if he's in the movie, and there's a message at the end where he leaves Maggie a message, he hopes maybe she'll see it and can win her back. The one character Martin does have a good grip on it a Vietnamese Priest (Long Nguyen) who's not really a priest, but still thinks he's fighting the Vietnam war and is preparing an unsuspecting prostitute (Christine Marzano) to be a suicide bomber and blow up during an Army Regiment Reunion. "That's a great psychopath!" Billy exclaims to him, but he doesn't want to use him, or any of the psychopaths really, because what he really wants to do is tell a story about love, and not write about gangsters and killing and killing anymore, but you know, still having the psychopaths. There's some great cameo appearance all around by a wide range of people. Harry Dean Stanton is another psychopath. Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg get killed off pretty quickly. Abbie Cornish also play Kaya, the Charlie's mistress, who he doesn't really like, who's also sleeping with Billy. I've really only kinda scratched the surface of this film, it's really layered, in all the details of the plot, which-, well I guess the word is intricate, but it's the most bombastic intricate plot I've ever seen. "Seven Psychopaths" is a lot of fun, and when it isn't, strangely they no it is. It's very self-referential, and self-referential about it being self-referential. I guess I found it a little too cute for me, but I still enjoyed it a lot, and it's pretty funny. It's a solid second feature from the great playwright McDonaugh; it's being a little overrated by some, but still quite good, quite memorable, and great casting as well. If you're casting a film called "Seven Psychopaths," these are the people I want to see in it, credit for that. Definitely recommending it.

SAFE (2012) Director: Boaz Yakim


I'm guessing that I was originally intrigued by safe, because of the director, Boaz Yakim, who, yes, has made a bunch of action films in the past, but he's also done some good memorable work, like "Remember the Titans" and has done some really great work with his masterpiece "Fresh". "Safe" is not a film of that quality, and saying that is kinda like comparing a matchbox car to a Rolls Royce. Not even a cool matchbox car either. Not Yakim's fault, but the same tired old action movie storyline, that's so impossible that nobody could take it seriously, unless they just want to occasionally see people getting killed and Jason Statham do some cool stunts and shoot people. Actually, it kinda reminded me of 'The Transporter", which I didn't like by the way, but at least that film has some wink-at-the-camera fun to it. Statham, who's been good when given a real chance to act like in Guy Ritchie's films, and especially in "The Bank Job", one of the best and most underrated heist movies, possibly ever, but at age 45, he's still doing these silly, action thriller, and I do mean silly. This is the kind of movie, where everyone gets killed, except for Statham, and a little Chinese girl, who he's fallen into finding himself protecting. The girl, Mei (Catharine Chan) has an eidetic memory, and has a savant-like ability to follow and keep track of numbers, and problems. First, she's working for the Chinese mob, where she witness more death than any girl her age should. Then, the Russian mob steal her. Then she escapes before the corrupt cops can be bought off by either side. That's when Luke (Statham) an old cop-turned-underground cagefighter, who turned in most of the corrupt cops, finds her and starts protecting her, or trying to anyway. The corrupt politicians get into the game later when the Mayor (Chris Sarandon) and the police Captain, (Robert John Burke) have the only really good scene and intriguing scene of dialogue in the Mayoral mansion, about what's happening, and their part in it. That's right, all the action, the stunt, the jumping from trains, the dodging bullets, etc., I remember one good scene of two people talking, because it was the only thing of real substance in "Safe". Oh and, the title, by the way, everybody's looking for the girl, because she has the ability to memorize an elaborate code, that is given to her in multiple parts, and also in multiple locations, that's actually a combination to a safe, that apparently has a lot of money in it. They couldn't even come up with something intriguing for the mysterious code of numbers to be, it's just a safe, just money, things that most everybody in the film, already has. "Safe" isn't so much a movie, as it is,- well, I don't know what it is, but it wasn't enjoyable. It wasn't a good use of it's actors, it wasn't an original story, there isn't an original thought, except possibly the world in which, every single person in the world is corrupt, except for Statham's character, and blatantly so. Well, corrupt or a mobster, one of the two. Actually that isn't even original, but rarely has it been so pointless and cliched, and boring. This is like an action movie by numbers, and nothing else.

DETROPIA (2012) Directors: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady


I don't think there's any real surprise, that Detroit, has basically turned into a ghost-like shell of it's former self, especially considering GM's bankruptcy, and subsequent bailouts, and continuous shipping of jobs overseas. Hell, Michael Moore's been warning us about it for decades now. "Detropia," is not a Michael Moore documentary, but it is a tapestry of modern-day Detroit, which is basically a mosaic of graffiti, abandoned businesses and factories, and unemployed workers. GM is working on producing the Chevy Volt, an electric car that they believe will be the alternative car, that will propel Detroit again, but at the car show that shows it off, which it admittedly has problems, China's brought their electric car, which is better and sleeker, and cost $12,000 cheaper, in America. The guy who points this out to the Chevy people, is Tommy Stevens, a former teacher, who runs a blues club, where he is also the chef, since he can't afford to hire a cook. The blues joint, tucked away in the middle of a barren, abandoned street, is cross, often with scenes from the Detroit Opera House. Yes, there's an Opera House in Detroit, has been for years, and is still thriving, because it's funded by GM. We see a glimpse of a performance of The Mikado, where the executioner takes out his list, and starts naming car companies. Competitors but car companies. There's also footage of the Mayor's office, as they begin working out a strange plan, that might actually work, if they can get the people to go along with it, involving a mass migration along the outskirts of Detroit, so that they can use the land for new projects, perhaps organic farming, that could save the city. Ironically, while the local unions disappear as companies close, a youth migration has begun living in Detroit. The cheap rent, has started growing a more artistic youth community to Detroit, maybe the kind of community that would help make an organic farm thrive. I don't think "Detropia" is a great documentary by any means, although it make the National Board of Review list, but it is an intriguing look at a city that's we've been looking quite a lot at in recent years, and still, haven't done much, or at least haven't succeeded at it anyway.

IN ANOTHER COUNTRY (2012) Director: Sang-soo Hong

2 1/2 STARS

"What the point here might be is a bit more elusive. It may be simply to allow Ms. Huppert, one of the most adventurous actresses in movies, the opportunity to try something new. And that might be enough." --A.O. Scott, from his positive review of "In Another Country"

I wanted to begin this review with that quote from A.O. Scott's review, because it perfectly exemplifies my thoughts on "In Another Country," however, I'm not recommending the film the way he did. Is it possible that two critics, (Granted one with far more experience and money than I) can have the same exact emotional and constructive feelings about a film, and still disagree on whether or not it's a good movie? Absolutely. Isabelle Huppert, for instance, is one of those great beautiful actresses, who I have often gone through the rabbit hole with her, and will likely watch anything she's in, and in some cases, I have. Sometimes it's a great and joyous experience like Michael Haneke's most underrated film, "The Piano Teacher", or Claude Chabrol Hitchcockian film "Merci Pour le Chocolat," or the wonderfully erotic "Gabrielle", which got remade by Atom Egoyan recently, and arguably better with his film "Chloe". Those films, make up, partially for some of the really bad films she's occasionally been in, like "8 Women", "The School of Flesh", and probably worse of the worse, the incredibly disturbing "Ma Mere". "In Another Country" is somewhere in between these films. Another little adventure down the Isabelle Huppert rabbit hole for me, and this time, she's in South Korea, the "Another Country", that "In Another Country" is referring to. The film is directed by Sang-soo Hong, it's the first feature I've seen of his, and I would like to see more, as he seems ethereal and Antonioni-esque, something that is lacking in film these days, but I'm hoping I'll get to some of his better films on my Netflix. This film takes place on a seaside resort, and Huppert playing three different French tourists, each of them named Anne, in three separate segments that are actually each dreamed up, or at least, they're being written by a young screenwriter named Wonju (Jung Yu Mi). In the different segment, she's a filmmaker, a lover of a filmmaker, and in the third, a divorcee on the spiritual journey. (Why are all divorcee's going on spiritual journeys nowadays? Have you noticed that? That can't just be an "Eat Pray Love" thing.) In each segment, she has a somewhat strained flirtation with the resort's Lifeguard (Jun-Sang Yu). Well, conversations at least, filled with mixes of loud English and mixed languages of Korean and French. One involves a tent, and a stolen umbrella. Thing seems to suddenly get stolen in each of these shorts stories. There's other recurring characters to, at the resort. I guess they're intriguing segments on their own, but they don't exactly come together, even with Huppert in all three of them. It's an interesting experiment, but I'm not 100% sure it wouldn't have worked just as well, if there were three different actresses playing the same part. Actually, that does have a tendency to work better, such as in Todd Solondz's "Palindromes", or in Luis Bunuel's "That Obscure Object of Desire", whether multiple actresses played the same character. Here, one actress is playing three different characters, while the characters at the beach and resort, remain the same. The people have the resort, seem to have the knowledge of the previous French visitor's name Anne, but I'm not sure, and it doesn't really seem to have relevance in the next segment, but I don't know. The movie is quite beautiful and the resort seems rather transcendent, but it doesn't really or answers any of these questions. I guess if you just want to see Isabelle Huppert playing three different characters, well this is your film, buy I can also just watch three good Isabelle Huppert films for that. There's stuff in it I like, I certainly want to see more of Sang-soo Hong, and I'll continue to watch always anything with Huppert in it, but "In Another Country" seems flimsy, and forgettable. I never felt grabbed by the film, and it never seemed to insist upon my watching it. Seeing Huppert do something new, is enough for me to see "In Another Country", but it's just not enough for me to recommend it.

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN (2012) Director: Linda Goldstein Knowlton


It hasn't been uncommon in recent years, especially on TV sitcoms, for parents to begin adopting kids from China, especially girls, which are less wanted in China, for cultural reasons that I've never fully understood. Another cultural reason for the overseas adoption from China and other Asian countries, is the extreme overpopulation that led to China's one child per family rule. In "Somewhere Between", the first theatrically-released documentary from Producer/Documentarian Linda Goldstein Knowlton, she's in the process of adopted a kid from China, and decides it a good idea to looks at the lives of others kids, all teenage girls, who were also adopted from Asia, and now live in Suburban homes. It's an intriguing conflict, because on one hand, you're apart of a loving family, and having a fairly good life, but on the other hand, you're completely disconnected from your roots. You don't know your birthparents, many of them never learn, and even if they get that lucky, they're literally on the other side of the world. I was surprised at how many of the families, make regular pilgrimages to China, especially when they're teenagers. It's a very difficult concept to not only embrace a culture that's not one's own, but to have to teach that culture to your kid, and for the kids to have to grow up with that. There's a few groups that have been formed to connect Chinese adoptees to each other, one even has a yearly group meeting in London. One of the girls got lucky, and found out which part of China she's from, and when she went there, put up a sign, explaining the situation of her adoption, and soon, she not only found her birthfather, she found practically an entire new side of her family. Her mother was apparently around as well, but refused to come. Another intriguing aspect to this practice, is how often kids are adopted, who weren't given up for adoption, and whether taken or kidnapped, or in some other way, were adopted in America under false pretenses. I was surprised to learn how many of these girls were old when they were adopted. Many still spoke Chinese, even though their family didn't. They were 2 or sometimes 3 or 4, when they were adopted. That was striking to me. I don't know if there was any really great revelations in "Somewhere Between" which briefly profiles four different teenage girls and their families, but was an interesting thing to watch. I'd think I'd rather wait for a more pronounce project on the subject, as oppose to this, outsider point of view, that really give us much more than a simplistic, perspective, but still, it was interesting enough for me to recommend, with the addendum, that the best documentaries about this subject have yet to be made.

CONTEMPT (aka LE MEPRIS) (1963) Director: Jean-Luc Godard

3 1/2 STARS

There's two kinds of films Godard makes. There's the kind that he makes with joy, and the kind he makes, out of frustration, and occasionally anger. Since the late '60s, most of his work is based out of the anger that the political. "Contempt" was his first, and only big-budget production, and it feels like it was made out of the early tremblings of frustration, and hence, it lacks compared to his more passionate and intriguing films like "Breathless", "Vivre Sa Vie", or may favorite Godard from the era, "Pierrot Le Fou".  All of Godard's films are about films, and movies, and the structure and form of them. Every aspect about films essentially, and in "Contempt", is very specific about the movie industry, probably reflective about the struggles Godard was going through as he was making the film. Paul Javat (Michael Piccoli, in his acting debut) is a playwright, who's hired to rewrite scenes from a big budget Hollywood film of "The Odyssey" by the movie's producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance). The producer's disappointed in the dailies he's getting from his directer (Fritz Lang, playing himself) who's making an art film, while he is under the impression that he's making some kind of Greek epic with Gods and war and battles, or something. I'm not completely sure he's read "The Odyssey", actually. For instance, when he asks Fritz, why he shot the scenes that aren't in the script, Fritz replies that they are. When he's handed the script and sees that they are, he's still angry at him, and throws the back in disgust like he does the cans and the film earlier. He's never written for the screen before, and sorta waffles about the idea, which isn't great for his career. Besides that, the real reason he's getting the offer, is because egomaniac Jeremy has a crush on his wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot)  Paul sees this, in fact, Jeremy isn't exactly hiding his effections. It seems apparent to everyone that the tradeoff is Camille for the job. He knows she'll say no, so he isn't as concerned, or maybe he's actually considering it. He's actually been flirting and thinking about Giorgia (Francesca manini), one of the film's actresses, Georgia (Francesca Vanini). The best scenes are in the hotel room between Bardot and Piccoli, as they have a back and forth fighting over this. While something literally fighting over it, and occasionally fighting over other things, when they're really fighting about this. Bardot adding a nude scene in the beginning of the film of Bardot, because the producer were pissed when they didn't originally include one. (Bardot having been infamous for her nude scenes in "...And God Created Woman".) The scene is of her behind, and is just her and Piccoli, lying on a bed, and she's insecure and looking for validation for her body. In between this, there's more Godard experimenting with film, and breaking the 4th wall. Fritz Lang's disses CinemaScope in one scene, which is interesting considering Godard was forced to shoot in it for this film. There's often sweeping romantic dramatic music playing at odd inopportune times, part of Godard's jokes. Still, while there's a lot of things interesting about "Contempt", as it ranks as an oddity, especially for Godard, it's more of a chore than a film. I'm recommending it, because the parts that do work, are strong, but this seemed to signify his later self-imposed exile from the mainstream film world, and even his abandoning his French New Wave contemporaries, as he challenge the form and structure of film more and more with his later films. "Contempt" is more interesting to discuss than to watch, but you need to watch it first.

TWO IN THE WAVE (2012) Director: Emmanuel Laurent

1 1/2 STARS

Speaking of Godard, "Two in the Wave" is a documentary that chronicles the early beginning of French New Wave, through it's two biggest names, Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. Both or course started as film critics for the Cahiers du Cinema, along with names like Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer, before they all began making their own movies, as responses to the American and French films of the era, that they weren't fans of for their artificiality. Essentially redoing the realism methods of Italian Neorealism, but also adding in more light touches and stories, that were emblematic of their love of cinema. Truffaut struck first with "The 400 Blows," which took off at Cannes in '59, and made teenage Jean-Pierre Leaud a star. Leaud worked with both Truffaut and Godard, and Truffaut and Godard often worked together. Truffaut wrote the script for Godard's first feature-length film, "Breathless", which I've written on as a Canon of Film entry in the past:


The movie uses some interviews, mostly older ones, and lots of archive footage of the two, as they're friendship helps start the revolutionary film movement. and then how their paths diverged to the point where they weren't even friends, by the end of the decade, as both filmmakers' style and sensabilites, professional and personal, went into decay. There's nothing particularly new that I learned from "Two in the Wave", but the real wave, but the real reason I'm bashing this movie is because it's boring as hell! French New Wave is filled with such youthful fun and flair. Who "Jules et Jim", for Truffaut, or "Pierrot Le Fou," or "A Woman is a Woman" from Godard, even someone like Chabrol, who can be boring, was often teasing us with his film structure, almost playfully. This movie doesn't really give us any sense of the era, or even much sense of the filmmakers. Godard is alive today btw (and still making movies, even after claiming his "Film: Socialisme" was gonna be his last), and while it's not exactly shocking that he wasn't interviewed for this film it would've been nice to see. They barely even interview anybody who knew them, granted many of them have passed from the era the film centers on. It's more fun to watch their films than to watch this documentary on them, which is usually the case with most docs of this nature, but usually they can still be exciting and entertaining. "Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures" for instance, the wonderful HBO documentary. But "Two in the Wave" was painful and intolerable to sit through, and dealt too much with the more trivial aspects of the relationship, like how they both seemed to be fighting over Leaud like two parents in the middle of a divorce. Maybe it's based on facts, but who wants to see that? If you're gonna tell a story of influential lives or a time period, or an era of some kind, with the obvious exceptions of course, I think you'd want it to be entertainment and relatively cheerful, or at least celebratory in nature. "Two in the Wave" makes no attempt to appease it's audience, and only the biggest of cinephiles and French New Wave ones at that, would be entertained by this film, and frankly I'm both of those, and I still wasn't entertained. One of the worse docs I've ever seen about film come to think of it. You want to learn about French New Wave, good, but take a class or go, go rent some movies, but use this film as your jumping off point, you'll think it's something that it isn't, and something you wouldn't want to look into. Huge disappointment for me.

3 IDIOTS (2009) Director: Rajkumar Hirani


While I had heard of "3 Idiots" prior, this is my second introduction to the film actually, after having seen the documentary "Big in Bollywood", about Omi Vaidya, an American actor actually, who became a big star in India, after his performance in "3 Idiots", and that documentary, which I saw at the Las Vegas Film Festival, and really enjoyed, and was sadden to see that it's still playing only on the festival circuit. (Too bad.) Up until now, I hadn't seen that many Bollywood films, and certainly hadn't given any of them 5 STARS. In many ways, Bollywood films are a little critic-proof. The system of movie making in Mumbai is reminiscent of films in America in the old Studio system, particularly in the 30s, where it wasn't uncommon for films to have a little drama, a little comedy, a musical number, a little bit of everything, including a happy ending, in order to appeal to as many people as possible. I remember thinking how strange it was that people would go see a Marx Brothers movie like "A Night at the Opera" or something, and couldn't wait for the Kitty Carlisle teenage romance subplot and was bored by the comedy. So essentially, a lot of movies are alike, and the plots end up predictable and familiar. I think the best of these movie, start with a tone and emotion, and basically stick with it, even as the churning of the machine creeps in and overtakes the film. This is where I think "3 Idiots" succeeds, and overtakes the parts of the film that are lacking. The 3 Idiots, are Farhan (R. Madhavan), Raju (Sharman Joshi) and the memorably-named Rancho Shamaldas Chanchad (Aamir Khan) who shows up late for the freshman hazing at a prestigious Indian Engineering school. He's told by the Seniors to strip to his underwear, and bow to them, or get peed on. When he doesn't and finally gets in his dorm room, he has to the count of ten, before the Senior pees on his door. In that time, he takes some items from the dorm room, and reconstructs something metal that slides under the door, and when the Senior goes to piss on the door, he gets electrocuted. Saltwater is a conductor, isn't it. Rancho's an engineer genius, who takes great offense to the way the school teaches, and pressurizes it's students. A few have committed suicide because of the stress. Of course, many of them, don't even want to be engineers, like Farhan, who actually wants to be a wildlife photographer, but as it tradition, he was told from birth to be an engineer. Raju, spends all his energy praying to dozens of gods, as his family who's so poor, he lives in black-and-white, like "A Streetcar Named Desire", as his father suffers from illness, and his family remains poor, hoping he succeeds and can support them. The dean of this rigid school of succeeding by all means is Viru Sahastrabudhe (Boman Irani) nicknamed, Virus, who lives by his rigid, structural teachings of engineering, and through pressure to rise to the top of the class. His life is exceptionally rigid, even timing his nap in tune to his shave, so he can even get stuff done as he sleeps. He seems like the father in the original "Cheaper By the Dozen", the timing expert who works relentlessly to time his life perfectly. Rancho is the first student to begin challenging his methods publicly, at every step of the way, and it frustrates him to no end, that not only is it hard to expel him, but also, he's the best student in the class. He even sit-ins on classes he's not in, by sneaking into the major classes with so many students, the teachers don't know who he is. (This comes in handy, when a medical emergency forces the idiots to be late for exams. Rancho is intelligent, creative, logical, and is easily able to outsmart others. The movie box compared the film to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and their is this kind of fun, lighthearted look at life in Rancho, who in the midst of the most pressure-filled situations, can calm himself by saying his mantra, "all izz well". Vaidya, who I mentioned earlier, plays a student named Chatur, nicknamed "Silencer", for his deafening farts, and is extremely success-oriented, and a bit of a butt-kisser to Virus. The movie takes place in the future, after he makes a bet with Rancho that he'd be more successful ten years from now. This bet takes place, after Rancho, change a Hindi-translation of a speech Chatur was giving about Virus, (Silencer was born in Uganda, and his Hindi isn't strong) where he switched the word succeed with the word "screwed" (That's the American subtitle translation,the actual word his changed to "raped"). Rancho, has been inauspiciously missing since then, and they're searching to find him, so Chatur can claim success on the bet. This is when they discover some secrets about Rancho, that heads towards the second half of the film, which includes, typical Bollywood storylines, especially the one about how the star, falls in love the Dean's daughter Pia (Kareena Kapoor). It always amazes me how often the protagonists, seem to gravitate towards having their arch-rivals be their in-laws. That seems like a naturally bad idea, but anyway. In the end, like with most movies, the real test of a Bollywood picture, is how much you enjoy watching it, even despite the formulaic tendencies of the films, and frankly, I enjoyed "3 Idiots' more than any other Bollywood film I've ever seen, and I enjoyed it more than most films of any kind I've seen, and I think most people will thoroughly enjoy "3 Idiots" as much as I did. I can see why it broke all  box office records for a Bollywood film.

BAD DAY TO GO FISHING (2009) Director: Alvaro Brechner

3 1/2 STARS

I've noticed quite a few good and decent films coming from Uruguay lately, and "Bad Day to Go Fishing," their '09, submission for the Oscars' Foreign Language film category, is another one. Taking place in the '60s, and Jacob von Oppen, (Jouko Ahola) is a former strongman who goes from small town to small town in South America, with his promoter Orsini (Gary Piquer) to perform some simple tricks, promoting von Oppen as the strongest man on Earth. Among the stunts, is a challenge set ahead of time, for anybody in the town who can last three minutes with von Oppen in a wrestling ring, and a local drunkard, is pre-selected to be the fall guy, meanwhile Adriana (Antonella Costa), a local woman, who raises the bet with Orsini, who struggles to raise the ante, and promote the fight for her local hero, who's a little more youthful. Just getting the two combatants sober, and then up for the fight is a challenge, but eventually, the fight is the event of the town, and the ticket prices keep getting raised. The movie is slow-moving, but it takes it's time for the characters to build. The film is based on a short story by Juan Carlos Onetti, and has the feeling of one of the Coens more poetic visions. "Bad Day to Go Fishing," foreshadows it's dark ending, which finally answers the question of why professional wrestling uses steel chairs as oppose to wood. "Bad Day to Go Fishing" is not my favorite recent Uruguayian film, that belongs to the transgendered drama "XXY", but it's still quite an intriguing film.

Thursday, April 18, 2013



Director: Rob Reiner
Screenplay: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer & Rob Reiner

Hello, I’m David Baruffi. I’m a screenwriter/blogger, who’s occasionally directed things in my head and I use to work part-time amateur comedy writer. I’m a bit of a stand-up philosopher as Mel Brooks once put it.  You remember like, ten, twelve years ago, when there was that joke about how all straight women want to have sex with Angelina Jolie, I wrote that joke, originally. I didn't get it patented in time, so everybody takes credit for it now, but originally, it was me! Anyway, I’d like to invite you watch one of the best mockumentaries of all-time, the story of the loudest band on Earth. It was directed by commercial director Marti DiBergi, (Rob Reiner) and most of the material in the film was completely improvised by it's stars. At bass, the lead singer, David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), at lead guitar/bass, Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), and at the double bass, Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), together, they are, the legendary British rock band, Spinal Tap! It’s the journey of their first American tour in six years and the trials and tribulations on the road. The behind the scenes drama of touring, like the date cancellations, hotel room services, the gig-to-gig travel and public appearances, and all of the other aspects of the rock’n’roll lifestyle. Plus, there will be tons of actual performances of some of the greatest and most memorable his Spinal Tap songs, like “Big Bottom,” “Sex Farm,” "Hellhole" and the rare footage of the epic-length, live performance of fan favorite, “Stonehenge,” an arena rock spectacle, you have to see to believe! The drama, the suspense, and even the romance, of being an internationally renowned rock’n’roll stars. Look back at the history of Spinal Tap, how they started as a '60s hippie pop band, and they're incredible rise to superstardom! Look back as they reflect on the members of the band, who've passed on, and watch them now, as they make their worldwide legendary comeback! Watch with suspense as the band is backstage right before they go on to another sold out show, trying to find the stage. See the groupies, drugs, and many of the other rock’n’roll trademarks. You even get to watch the band as they work through the process of creating new material. And, as a special treat, watch as Spinal Tap plays to an audience of U.S. Army soldiers as they pay tribute to the troops. And watch interviews of the band members and their closest companions, their lovers, their agents, and get a rare eyewitness view of the personal lives, what it truly means to live while being rock’n’roll superstars, as they share their personal thoughts on many interesting topics, and see the secrets of their musical genius. Don’t wait, to see “This is Spinal Tap.” If you show up early enough on Saturday at Mania Videos and Records, you’ll get to meet Spinal Tap, who will autograph their controversial new album “Smell the Glove,” and copies of “This is Spinal Tap,” and meet their new drummer. So see, “This is Spinal Tap,” and when you do, remember to crank it up, to eleven, 'cause, as Nigel say, it's one louder! 

I thought about leaving this Canon of Film review, with just the above paragraph, and I could actually, and probably not give it a second thought, but it's also important to put "This is Spinal Tap" in context. It was Rob Reiner's feature film debut, and remains one of his best films. The mockumentary format wasn't exactly new, that was either invented by Fellini or Woody Allen depending on when you want to count, but the rockumentaries they were making fun, actually in hindsight, don't seem that difference than "...Spinal Tap". Even, newer ones always seem to hearken back to it. Even the songs, as cartoonish as they kinda are, actually are about as good or even better than some of the popular pop/metal songs of the era. The format was so beloved by Christopher Guest, that he made a trio of them himself, starting, "Waiting for Guffman", "Best in Show", the best of his films, and "A Mighty Wind", which also is loosely based on a music group originated by the trio of McKean, Guest and Shearer, the Folksmen. The story, as I said, is about a tour, but they're not the legendary rock band they believe, or want to believe they still are, or ever were, but about three guys who desire most to continue living the rock'n'roll dream. They absorb everything that they think it means to be a rock star, but they aren't so much actual rock stars, as they are, emulating their heroes, even as they can't even get top billing to a puppet show anymore. On the edges of the screen, the mockumentary format reveals in looks and angles what characters are really thinking. When Nigel finds out that David's girlfriend Jeanine (June Chadwick) is joining the tour, his heart sinks. He's got a crush on David. Not a gay crush necessarily, but a crush of admiration, and anything that gets in the way of that, might as well be Yoko Ono to him, (Sorry, Yoko) especially when she ends up firing their manager, and taking over, what's left of a tour. There's also a surprising amount of cameos in great memorable roles. The P.O. record company publicist, Bobbi Flekman, is one of the first major part Fran Drescher is known for. Angelica Huston has that great bit where she's the set designer, that, because of an error in measuring, leads to one of the funniest jokes in the film, as a performance goes from the serious to the inept, in a heartbeat. "This is Spinal Tap", above all things is one of the funniest movies of all-time, and it's influence is still being felt today. I've noticed that a lot of people, who don't get the TV show, "The Office", also didn't fully understand "This is Spinal Tap". In fact, when my grandparents used to run the Video Tyme in Boulder City, NV, they put the movie in the music section. It wasn't until years later, when the movie ranked on AFI's list of the 100 Greatest Comedies, did she discover that it wasn't an actual music documentary. The format is great, because it is one of the best examples of a first-person storytelling perspective, even though Marti Dibergi, seems strangely missing during the latter half of the film. Nowadays, that structure's being used, and overused in horror films, but it really can be told in any genre if you get the right people actors. "This is Spinal Tap" does many rare things, especially for a comedy. It's a look back into a zeitgeist of an era, while actually making fun of it. It was only going for the latter, but it actually is a good representation of the '80s rock culture. It happens to be a good musical, and the music actually led to actual tours and albums for Spinal Tap. It also gives us a look inside the business of rock'n'roll. How it's marketed and created. It's also about three people, who thrive for fame, and work at keeping it. They don't work well at it, but they do work at it. You might only notice the comedy, and great lines like the ones about the armadillos in their trousers, or the drummer who mysteriously died by choking on vomit, that wasn't his, but there's surprising amounts of emotional depth in "This is Spinal Tap", and that's the real reason it's one of the best of all comedies.

Oh, and I actually do contend that I invented that Angelina Jolie joke. It's old now, it's not funny anymore, but it was funny as hell at the time.