Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The ACADEMY AWARDS CODE


As an American Gen X cinephile, I have basically had no choice in my life but to watch the Academy Awards every year. Growing up I watched it yearly, and I listened to my father's thoughts on the subject. We would compare notes on what we knew about the movies being presented, and the interesting movies that we had seen tended to get ignored. There was a voting code that the Academy was using, and we just couldn't crack it.


Every year that I have watched the Academy Awards I have felt unfulfilled and dissatisfied afterward. This year was more of the same. The Hugh Jackman show was painful. Song and dance routines further drive people like me into channel surfing of playing Animal Crossing on VIDEO 2. The Academy Awards is really speaking a language that I understand less and less as I grow older. The show is the equivalent of eating a bag of Halloween candy for dinner. Yes, you chewed, swallowed and it all tasted good, but now you feel like trash. You could have eaten something better. And as always, post-81st Academy Awards I feel like trash. Again I have that sense that I went through a grueling three hours and I have nothing to show for it. Again I am dissatisfied. But the more I think about it, it may not have all been a COMPLETE waste of time. I think I may have cracked the code.


Every year I have watched the Academy Awards hoping for honesty and truth. Every year since 1977 when Star Wars dominated, I have felt that there was a code governing the Academy voters that I couldn't crack. This is a code that seems to take more into account than just the merits of the films and performances nominated in a given year.The Academy evaluates film in a way that differs from everyone I know. Lifetime achievement is an award that is given, but actors are sometimes snubbed for years and then given an award for a sub-par performance when they should have been given the award years before. There is the quality of the performances to consider, but other factors are pulled in that sway the votes. Social consciousness, political flavors of the moment and sentimentality are all seemingly considered in the allocation of awards.


SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE swept the awards, and in the end, it all makes sense. Sentiment and social consciousness are factors that drove SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE into the number one spot this year.


So when I saw Ben Kingsley speaking to Mickey Rourke and telling him that he'd done a great job with THE WRESTLER and Mickey's hands were shaking with anticipation, I felt that I could see it clearly. Mickey Rourke was to be awarded for time served. I felt that his body of work was going to be respected along with his powerhouse performance. Where I was wrong was that the political flavors of the moment and sentiment were what pushed an Oscar in Sean Penn's direction. Judged solely on the merits of acting, Rourke vs Penn was a draw. The outside forces that help shape the votes were what won over in this case. This isn't really about acting, this is subjectivity at its greatest and personal preference when it is most strong. I cracked the code, I just guessed wrong.


More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com


*EPILOGUE*
If you suffered through the 3 hr. Hugh Jackman singalong you saw a 3 minute clip at the end previewing movies coming out this year. Some are trash, some are polished trash, and all of it is worth watching at least once.
The list of films that are pushed through that clip are as follows:
Sherlock Holmes
Funny People
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Public Enemies
Julie & Julia
The Soloist
Up
Fame
Terminator Salvation
500 Days of Summer
Amelia
Whatever Works
Inglourious Basterds
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Monsters vs. Aliens
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Angels & Demons
Old Dogs
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
The Boat That Rocked
An Education
State of Play
Imagine That
G-Force

Monday, February 23, 2009

FRIDAY THE 13th - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW



Reboots, remixes and reduxes. Hollywood is full of them, and there are more on the way. The last serious horror franchise that caught the reboot in the ass was HALLOWEEN. HALLOWEEN was directed by an individual who supposedly knows and breathes horror films. That person just couldn't deliver the Michael Myers that we needed. Nor could he direct real actors or piece together a story that topped the John Carpenter original. He'd directed two relatively mediocre horror films beforehand, and then he was entrusted with something sacred. He failed miserably.


In the case of the Friday the 13th reboot, the director, Marcus Nispel, is already deep into reboot philosophy. He previously directed the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE that came out in 2003. Marcus knows a thing or two about reboots, unlike that sorry director who tried to reboot HALLOWEEN.


What Marcus presents to us is polished trash. The Friday the 13th movies have always been trash; there is no denying this fact. But the way that trash is heightened in this version makes the film topple its predecessor. It seems that the trashy angles of the FT13 series are what Marcus has fixated on, and he does it well.


Marcus Nispel fast forwards us through the first three FT13 movies by telling the story of Jason's bent mother in the opening credits and having Jason change out the STRANGERS potato sack for the hockey mask halfway through the film. Once that hockey mask is in place, the killing machine really puts in work.


All of the things that you know about the Friday the 13th series are pushed at you 2009 style. Breasts? Check. Machete swipes? Check. Arterial spray? Check. Some new killing themes emerge too. One is the fact that the machete needs to be pulled out of the skull or foot or top of the head. For example, Jason swings his machete into this guy's face, and he uses his boot to push the head away and free the blade.


The film does miss in a number of ways, however. Jason now takes prisoners (?). Sexual tension has always been an element in these films, but the fact that Jason has kept a female prisoner for 6 weeks is completely new, disturbing and not explored properly. Jason also lets a key victim survive, which is completely unlike his merciless 80s incarnation.


This is a Friday the 13th movie, with polish. It has unanswered questions and ridiculous gore. It isn't anything special, but it is better than the original cloth that it was cut from.

More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com

Thursday, February 19, 2009

HIS NAME WAS JASON - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW


I have to stress before I go any further that I am a big Tom Savini fan. Every time he shows up onscreen, I am amused to no end. The sequel to the LOST BOYS was the last time I saw him in a film. He is distinctive and quirky. For a special effects guy to arrive where Savini has crash-landed, demonstrates determination, skill and personality. However, in the documentary HIS NAME WAS JASON, Savini is lacking. Someone needed to host this DVD about the 30 year history of Jason Voorhees and I suppose Savini makes sense. However, the cute puns and middle-school witticisms that Savini delivers are weak, and they detract from the gem that this documentary is. Several months ago, I managed to secure every Friday the 13th film ever made so that I could bone up on the subject in time for the reboot of the franchise that just dropped, but since then they have been sitting around collecting a lot of dust. Why? There is always something way more interesting to do than watch a Friday the 13th movie. The movies are corny and propelled forward by ridiculousness. JASON GOES TO HELL? JASON TAKES MANHATTAN? JASON IN OUTER SPACE? These are all examples of how silly the franchise is. The beauty of HIS NAME WAS JASON is that it is essentially Friday the 13th Cliff's Notes. Face it, Friday the 13th movies are fun, but crappy and dated. A viewing of this DVD brings clarity to the series and won't cost you 20+ hours of your life. There are innumerable insightful interviews in which actors, directors, journalists and behind the scenes people associated with the films give their take on the franchise. It is rather riveting. The interviewees tell some funny, disturbing and heartwarming Jason-related stories. The interviews crackled with a giddy energy that actually made me feel like I had missed something by not seeing episodes 4, 5, 6 and 7.


Is this DVD a triumph? It sure in the hell isn't. Tom Savini's bad horsing around detracts from the guts of the interviewing more often than naught. That being said, it is great to hear about all of the behind the scenes goings-on during the various shoots of these films.


Prior to seeing this documentary, I had lost most of my desire to watch the FT13 reboot, but since watching this thing, I am hyped again. Friday the 13th movies aren't meant to be taken seriously, and this documentary drives that point home. That said, Tom Savini should be horsing around. Unfortunately, I feel that he takes his unfunny smart-assery too far. More of my musings can be found HERE.


Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PRIDE AND GLORY - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW


The title of this movie sucks. SUCKS. It does nothing for the film, and if it wasn't for the gritty movie poster, I would swear that the movie was a Jane Austen book being bigscreened or something.

Outside of the title, there is another GLARING ERROR with this film. The error is named Colin Farrell. Colin Farrell has done absolutely NOTHING for me in the past several years, so why is he going to start with a cop movie named like a Jane Austen book? Farrell is on FAIL until further notice.

So I went into this movie screaming and kicking. Ed Norton? Sometimes he is good, but he is falling fast in my eyes. Jon Voight? The only reason he catches a pass is simply because of DELIVERANCE. The truth of the matter is that I was ready to hate this stuff. I went in with my veins pulsing bile, and I was armed to write this article with a bunch of vicious adjectives that I have been storing for such an occasion. Then something GODLIKE happened. In the opening credits, JOE CARNAHAN is credited as a co-writer. That was when I sat up and paid attention. Joe Carnahan is the last man in Hollywood that I truly respect. He came up from the blue collar gutter, turned around and delivered NARC and SMOKIN' ACES. The man comprehends things. I knew that if Carnahan was on board, then stupid title be damned, I was in for a good ride. I was right.

The previews say it all. There are some crooked cops and there are straight ones trying to get to the bottom of it. Everyone has a slutty New York accent, and the truth is closer to home than you think. John Ortiz does a pretty good job as a Cornrowed Officer with a Conscience. The plot is thick and crunches like clockwork. Yes, it has its Hollywood moment where two men put down their guns and duke it out like street thugs, but the overall satisfaction that I felt at the end of this cop drama was deeper and more satisfying than I went in expecting. Plot twists and some of the most wretched implied violence I have ever dealt with keep this thing rolling down the tracks with purpose. This film was mis-titled. If it had been called anything else, I would have been there sooner.

More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com

Saturday, February 7, 2009

THE OFFICE


OFFICE vs OFFICE


There was a time when I thought that the British version of THE OFFICE was the absolute best. Ricky Gervais does the best cowering, crude, self-centered, sycophant I have ever seen on television. The British version of the OFFICE was something that was untouchable in my mind.


When I heard that the Americans were revisiting The OFFICE and making their own spin on it, I fled from the concept. I steered right away from it. I wanted nothing to do with the American bastardization of something so great. Six seasons into the Americanized version of the OFFICE, I have finally lifted my stubborn head out of the rubble and watched the first American season. What has struck me about it all is something that I never expected. I also think that I am going to come off here as a bigot, but I have to lay the cards down now: American Office > British Office. Ricky Gervais started it, but the Americans have definitely finished it.


My issue with the British version of the OFFICE was the rampant misogyny. It was really out of control. The point of all of the anti-woman offense was to make the viewer cringe, and this was successful. However, the depth of the characters in the British version was lacking. The British version was basically a mini-series: two seasons and a Christmas special. Obviously, the American version has gone far beyond the original template, and from what I have heard from others, the quality of humor doesn't slacken. The American version has toned down the misogyny and gone more into the lousiness of office politics. This turn of plotting events gives the American version more teeth than the British version ever had.


Don't get me wrong, Ricky Gervais is a funny man. His office manager routine had me laughing and wincing simultaneously. But I must say that Steve Carrell brings a level of humanity to the quotient that Gervais does not. Carrell's character is plausible. Gervais' is not. Both of these people act out a level of incompetence that is staggering, however it seems that Carrell's act is geared for the long haul. This is a character that could last for 6 seasons or more. Gervais created a supernova character that was fizzling and out of elbow room towards the end. The vision for the British version was short. The American version is long-term. They have both been successful with their missions. Now I am a believer in the Americanized version, I wish I hadn't waited so long.


More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at admin@mediasaurs.com

Thursday, February 5, 2009



Sure the original Terminator was a lot of fun. On second thought, it wasn't. The film was cheeseball. I enjoyed when I first saw it as a kid because I didn't know any better. But as my taste matured I realized it was crap. As a matter of fact, when I was in college and T2 dropped, I stayed away from it. I would ask my friends about the violence in the movie and the effects, but I was so sure that it was going to be a deeper burrowing into that initial cheeseball tunnel that I just didn't bother. Years later, I watched it on video and was left slack-jawed. They had done it. They had lifted it from its B-movie cheese into some sort of cheddar or Monterey Jack. With T2, the Terminator series transformed into some decent sci-fi and not the kind of stuff that one doesn't admit to liking.

Initially I dodged the Terminator 3 bullet. I was convinced that there was no way they could do it right. I dodged it in the theaters, and I dodged it on video for a while. But eventually a friend of mine basically tied me to a chair, peeled my eyes back CLOCKWORK ORANGE style, and forced me to take it. I found it marginally enjoyable. The magic of T2 was lost. A lot of things blew up, and that Loken girl was hot, but that is pretty much all I can remember. Oh wait, there was a scene with a casket or something. My memories fizz, spark and refuse to make a connection in regards to the film. I don't see myself going back to T3 ever again.

The hype is now on for TERMINATOR SALVATION this coming May. The pictures are showing up online. The rumors of the Governor of CA being on the set and doing a cameo are all in place. Batman himself is starring in the film and we are all supposed to line up and get Terminated one more time. I am sorry, but I'm really not feeling up to it at this time. Perhaps when May rolls around, I'll be up to it. Until then though, I am amassing all of the pictures and clips that I can find and scrutinizing the hell out of them. The truth of the matter is that I need a time machine so I can go back to when I was a kid and processed American cheese tasted wonderful. The original cheese of the TERMINATOR has been cleaned up for a broader audience. It has had a lot of monetary air blown through it to clean out the rot, like Sinclair's JUNGLE. I don't think that a lot of money can really clean up the cheese though. Check out the pictures and links for yourself in the Mediasaur forums.


More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.comcom

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

JAWS - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW


*POSTSCRIPT PROLOGUE*
The above picture has always scared the hell out of me. I can remember being a kid and staring at the thing for hours. I can remember trying to draw the shark's teeth. I can remember wishing that there were less splashes around the girl so I could see her naked body better. Whatever the case may be, the above poster is one of the best movie posters concerning impending doom that I have ever seen in my life. Homegirl has no chance, and she has no idea either.


The other night, I watched JAWS for about the 15th time. The film is manly. I don't need to tell you what a great film it is and how it put Speilberg on the map. I don't need to get into the whole Roy Scheider thing or how Dreyfuss came screaming into his own with that film. I certainly don't need to lament the loss of Robert Shaw and how the world would be a better place if he'd just lived a little longer. Those facts are all given.


I was forced back in a JAWS direction by a specific scene in ROCKNROLLA. The scene in ROCKNROLLA resonated so much with my distilled memory of JAWS that I had to go back and see it again. In ROCKNROLLA, two Russian gangsters are sitting in the back of a car getting ready to make a cash exchange. They are comparing their scars. Of course, their scars have to do with barbed wire, explosives and bullets. The scene even has one of them roll up his pant leg, just as the original scene in JAWS. But there is a truth in the back of my mind about this whole thing. The truth is that I will never go back to ROCKNROLLA 15 times. I have been through it twice and I have done the cue-up and watched specific scenes again, however, the thing is an empty balloon at this point. I feel that I have taken all of the life out of it already.


As I watched JAWS the other night, I was spellbound, and I realized that there are nuances in speech and acting that I need to visit again and again. It was painfully obvious that I am not quite done with that film yet. It will probably be a year or two before I roll it again, but it is completely enjoyable. The scene where Shaw and Dreyfuss compare their scars is masterful. These two guys are really acting. They have become the scarred men of aspects of the sea. The two Russians can't come close with all of their war-crime posturing.


So what is it in me that is deferring to the classic 1976 film with the rubber shark over a film about mobsters that destroys several cars, a storefront and has more bloody squibs and cinematography tricks than I can count? I am not sure. Both films are forms of art, and I can only get in trouble by saying one is superior to the other.


I sure do like that scar scene though. I like that scene in both films. It is about as manly as it gets.


More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com



Monday, February 2, 2009

TRANSFORMERS 2, GI JOE and STAR TREK


(For the record, I dig that fuzzy picture above. It hits the poetic nebulous note regarding information on this film.)
FEB 01, 2009




It is Superbowl Sunday. The ads are hitting online and the MEDIASAURS are putting in work. The best that has shown up at the time of this writing is for TRANSFORMERS 2. I swear, I am going to use all of my power to dismiss the new GI JOE movie. I will start by re-citing the 2 IRON MANS doing backflips in the trailer. A bunch of CG is not going to make this Sommers movie any better. And if you know me, you know I will eat my hat if I am wrong. I doubted racist-ass America would vote Obama in, and look at us now? I doubted the Wachowskis Speed Racer and I think it is one of the best films I have seen in a long time.

Back to TRANSFORMERS 2. It looks like fun. There are so many Transformer characters out there that I am really at a loss as to who these guys are that are showing up in this film. That being said, if you know anything about the characters, you should log in and tell us in the FORUMS.


The trailer for STAR TREK is the one that I had the most hope for and it really shows us the least. Well, we officially meet Dr. McCoy and we see some more quick edit effects but that is about it. Most obvious to all is the fact that the Enterprise is gonna take a pounding at the will of Eric Bana. I still have little faith in JJ Abrahms. I recently sat through CLOVERFIELD and it wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. I have a Facebook friend who has told me that LOST is his second favorite television show of all time, edging out THE SHIELD and staying barely under THE WIRE. There is a lot of evidence that STAR TREK could work. But Abrahms himself has said he isn't a ST fan...


There is a lot to discuss. Register and speak on it in the FORUMS.More of my musings can be found HERE. Furthermore, you contact me at mailto:admin@mediasaurs.com