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Now we live in Transylvanamericania

In What? This isn't a documentary? on October 13, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Ok, so the vampire fad has finally gotten regoddamndiculous.  True Blood.  Fine, that’s a badass show.  The Twilight series?  I even read the first book because every girl I know was obsessed with it (and yes, these are women in their twenties and thirties).  It was decent.  Then came show after show.  Book after book, movie after movie.  But we have finally reached the point where vampires have hopefully completely jumped the shark.

John C. Reilly as a vampire?  Come on now.  This movie, The Vampire’s Assistant, looks about as much fun to watch as fighting a polar bear naked in the Artctic.  How can Reilly go from being a founding member of Prestige Worldwide to this crap?  It’s almost unfathomable.

The only plus side is that maybe it’s a sign that we won’t have to deal with vampires for much longer.  Oh right, until the next 3 Twilight movies come out.

Yup, we’re all screwed.

Hey ladies, fantasize about THIS

Hey ladies, fantasize about THIS


The peaks and valleys of Hollywood

In What? This isn't a documentary? on April 10, 2009 at 12:33 am

Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!

That classic quote from Dumb and Dumber pretty much describes exactly how I have felt this week about what is coming out of Hollywood.

Sure, we may live in a time when a studio can remake a shitty movie from 8 years ago, drop two “the’s” (someone, anyone- how do you write the plural of “the”?), change the word “and” to a symbol and laugh their way to a $70 million opening weekend.  Yes, that is a really complex sentence; yes, the movie described is Fast & Furious; and yes, America can be a really, really dumb country sometimes.

Vin Diesel wears a cup not to protect himself, but to protect the players on the other team.

Random Vin Diesel Fact: Vin Diesel wears a cup not to protect himself, but to protect the players on the other team.

Despite the rough start with F&F’s weekend triumph, Hollywood has in fact redeemed itself as the week has passed.  At least with me, for during the course of the week, I have come across two trailers of upcoming films that I am beyond excited for.

The first of these just so happens to feature Sacha Baron Cohen, the king of awkward situations and star/creator of Da Ali G Show and Borat.  And if the red band trailer is any indication, Bruno, in which he plays a gay Austrian, will easily surpass Borat on the scale of ridiculousness.  (To even write that about a film that featured two men, one severly overweight, running roughshod through a hotel while stark naked is somewhat shocking).

After watching the trailer, you’ll be hard pressed not to agree.  (“Dolce and Gabbana.  Hello!”)

Any other week and Bruno would be the trailer that I can’t stop watching.  But not this week.  No, that honor goes to the movie version of one of the best books ever written.  I’m talking about Where The Wild Things Are.

This movie is pretty much a can’t miss.  The book it is based on, by Maurice Sendak, is ridiculously good.  It has one of the best directors in Hollywood in Spike Jonze.  It was co-written by Jonze and the great Dave Eggers (of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and McSweeney’s fame).

And the trailer, featuring the music of Arcade Fire, is unbelievable.  Sit back, check it out, and get ready.  But don’t get too ready, because October 16, its release date, is six months away.

Which, of course, is a month after Fast, Furious is set to come out.

But I’m still holding out hope that John Cusack is in the bullpen

In What? This isn't a documentary? on February 6, 2009 at 1:27 am

We (ok, this is a one man operation) at the JSF headquarters (my roommate’s laptop on the couch) are unabashed fans of a good chick flick every now and then.  While laughing through The Office tonight (setting a world record and then watching virtuoso performances by Kobe and LeBron in person left me so tapped that I took a pass on any Thursday shenanigans), I was bombarded by commercials for chick flicks.   Confessions of a Shopaholic and He’s Just Not That Into You (henceforth HJNTIY), while both chick flicks, at first glance, appear very different.

The difference is, one looks absolutely abysmal.

Obviously it is not the one that I am going to see tomorrow, its opening day.  Sadly, I haven’t seen a single one of the appear-to-be-dominating movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, but I am seeing a major chick flick tomorrow.  Which one is that?  Oh, probably the one that is basically a slow pitch softball lineup of  stars who have already dropped off their chick flick V card at the studio in exchange for box office gold.  I mean, this cast is good.  You probably recognize every one.  Test yourself.  If you can’t picture at least 7 of these, I’m fairly certain you are immune to John Stamos Fever.

RF: Rachel from Friends

CF: E from Entourage

3B: Chuckie from Good Will Hunting, who has somehow managed to trick the hot chick from Alias into bearing his children

LF: Elliot’s little sister from E.T.

P: The reporter from Blood Diamond, who took that job when her marriage to John Nash and his beautiful mind dissolved

SS: Sac from Wedding Crashers

2B: Mac

C: The beautiful girl who somehow made an honest man of Van Wilder (in real life)

1B: The “liberal” Mormon wife on Big Love

Apparently there was no spot for John Stamos?

Apparently there was no spot for John Stamos?

The casting directors of this movie are hoping a star studded cast can overshadow the one glaring omission, the king of chick flicks, the man who played Lloyd Dobler, Rob Gordon and Jonathan Trager to perfection, the one, the only, John Cusack.

Top 5 chick flicks? Love Actually, Titanic, Say Anything, Serendipity and Pretty Woman. Big shout outs to High Fidelity and Clueless, which ultimately I don’t classify as chick flicks.  Also, I liked The Notebook. And How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. And Legally Blonde. And When Harry Met Sally. And What Women Want. And Never Been Kissed.

And Gladiator (After all, I am still a man.  Rawr.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles + Mighty Ducks = Fantastic. Secret of the Ooze + D2 = Radical. Just stop there next time, please

In What? This isn't a documentary? on January 29, 2009 at 1:22 am

Someone, somewhere, once told me, “Good things come in threes.”  It was probably a drunk guy referring to threesomes he never had, but that’s neither here nor there.    A lot of times, three is in fact better than two.  That’s just how quantities work.   In the case of movies, however,  the third is sometimes the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  And, in turn, makes me extremely angry.

The two prime offenders?  Whoever green lit the third movies in the Mighty Duck and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchises.

Seeing D3: The Mighty Ducks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III marked two of the three times I have been most disappointed leaving a movie theater.  For the rest of my life, I will never be as upset leaving the movies as I was when, as a 10 year old,  I begged my mother to bring my brother and I to see The Sandlot on its opening weekend.  Upon learning it was sold out, we went for the next best option: Groundhog Day. When you want Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez stealing bases and get Bill Murray reliving the same day, over, and over, and over again, well, it’s enough to make your ten year old head explode.   I didn’t start to develop sarcasm as my second language until later in life, so Bill Murray’s humor was completely and utterly lost on me.  While I love Groundhog Day now, I hated it in 1993.

But back to the issue at hand.  The two worst third installments after classic movies:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III:

To be fair, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze were two instant classics in my mind.  The original Turtles was exactly what the doctor ordered, just a full, somewhat humanized, dose of the cartoon I had grown to love.  I remember being shocked that everyone in New York City was fooled into thinking the turtles were humans when they walked around with just a tan trench coat and hat on.  The follow up was even better, involving a somewhat mad scientist, Shredder coming back from his landfill grave, two extremely angry teens (Danny and Raphael), April O’Neill, Casey Jones kicking ass with a variety of weapons, the hapless Foot Clan, and the dimwitted duo of Tokka and Rahzar.  Those last two were inexplicable stand ins for Bee-Bop and Rock Steady, but that is the only complaint I have with Secret of the Ooze.

For the longest time, I was so angry about the third that I swore off TMNT altogether.  I can’t recall anything about the plot besides that the turtles went back in time to ancient Japan to battle with samurais.  Many shenanigans ensued.  At the time, I remember irate: Time travel just isn’t even possible! Apparently mutant turtles fighting crime under the guidance of human-sized rat were very realistic to me back then.

D3: The Mighty Ducks

The progression of the three movies is baffling.  During the first, they are a bunch of little kids playing pond hockey when a high powered lawyer and former Minnesota peewee league legend, Gordon Bombay, is forced to coach them as part his community service sentence for drunk driving.  Classic hockey and life lessons ensue, with Bombay and Captain Charlie Conway leading the way.

From novice skaters to league champions, we watched as Walt Disney pulled our heartstrings.  We even forgave them as they completely skipped several levels of development for D2 and suddenly our favorite skating birds were teaming up with a few other misfits and taking on THE WORLD in the Junior Goodwill Games.  Yes, the kids from Minnesota somehow made it onto the international stage, and even managed to not get penalized for ditching the team USA uniforms for their Ducks sweaters before the third period en route to their victory.

But honestly?  I just saw the Ducks defeat Iceland for the title.  You expect me to get drawn into them having to deal with the varsity team not accepting them as freshmen?  I’m sorry, but that was almost as unrealistic to me as a bunch of crime fighting mutants using a sceptor to time travel.

Reader’s Poll # 1:

Who would win in a fight: The Bash Brothers from Mighty Ducks, or Casey Jones from Return of the Ooze?

** Update ** I have decided this question is ridiculous.  Casey Jones would slaughter both of them and then go lay his mack down on April O’Neill.

If only your life had a soundtrack like these movies…

In What? This isn't a documentary? on January 26, 2009 at 1:30 am

While we spent the day recovering from last night’s Early 90s dance party,  Jacko bought a Playstation 3 and spent 6 or so hours playing a game called Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. I could make a comment about his lack of productivity for a Sunday, except I sat there watching him play for about 5 of those hours.  Anyway, I could care less about video games (because I am bad at them), but I am psyched to quite psyched about the PS3’s Blu-Ray capabilities, which we just tested out by watching 300.

First of all, Blu-Ray is sick.  When you combine it with a visually spectacular movie like 300, which is so battletastic that it is virtually impossible to watch it without getting about a hundred War Boners, it is almost too much to take.

Seeing it for the first time since the theater, however, reminded me of the one disappointing aspect of the movie: its lack of a killer soundtrack.   You can’t have it all, but when I spend two hours watching men with 8 pack abs killing Persians, I like to rock out a little bit.   A movie with a good soundtrack brings it to the next level, pumping up the audience.  I don’t think I could have written papers in college without the soundtrack to Braveheart or Gladiator playing in the background.

Obviously, a director doesn’t have to have tunes pumping for the entire movie, but can effectively pick and choose great songs to pair with great scenes.  Do you think Rocky would have been as good without “Eye of the Tiger” playing?  Think again.  But sadly, as great as the Eye of the Tiger montage is, it doesn’t make my top ten (plus one) list for the best movie songs.   Without further adieu, John Stamos Fever presents:


Honorable Mention

Every song in Forrest Gump

11. Vanilla Ice’s “Go Ninja, Go Ninja Go!” in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Vanilla Ice provides the soundtrack to the turtles dominating the Foot Clan in the middle of a classic early 90s club scene.  There has perhaps never been a greater rap single made for mutant teenage turtles in the history of movies.

10.  Urge Overkill’s cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” in Pulp Fiction

First of all, Pulp Fiction is one of the best movies ever made, and this take on a classic Diamond hit is enough to make me want to become a hitman and work in tandem with Vincent and Jules.  Zed’s dead, baby.

9.   Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight” in Anchorman

I think it’s safe to say that never before have four newscasters combined to sing a better rendition of a song that is all about having sex in the middle of the day.

The intimate times?  Outta sight, my man

The intimate times? Outta sight, my man

8.  The Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping up to Boston” in The Departed

Just unspeakably badass.  The song.  The movie.  The city.  The band.  Perfect combo, just one notch below the best use of an Irish song in a movie set in Boston.  That distinction goes to:

7.  Mychael Danna’s “The Blood of Cu Chulainn” in The Boondock Saints

When the Sarge and I shared a bedroom sophomore year in college, rarely did a day pass without one of us throwing on this song for inspiration.  It fits any mood, livens any situation.  In fact, please feel free to read the rest of this while listening to the tune here:

6. The Geto Boys’ “Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangster” in Office Space.

Why should Initech’s Michael Bolton change his name?  The sax playing pretty boy of the same name is the one who sucks.

5. Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker’s Street” in Good Will Hunting

Fresh off his initial mention in last week’s guest for his virtuoso saxophone skills, Rafferty is back for “Baker’s Street,” which stands out as the best song in an amazing movie filled with great ones. Next time I beat up someone from my kindergarten class, I am definitely listening to this song on my ipod.

4.  The Drifters’ “This Magic Moment” in The Sandlot

The Drifters get the nod for a great song, sure, but the real hero of this scene is Michael “Squints” Palledorous, who effectively fakes almost drowning in order to lay the hottest kiss of his young life on the lifeguard of his dreams, Wendy Peffercorn.   This is the greatest kissing scene in the history of Western Civilization.

The Great Hambino may have the sharpest tongue, but Squints uses his best

The Great Hambino may have the sharpest tongue, but Squints uses his best

3. Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” in Say Anything

Lloyd Dobler: making straight guys consider falling in love with a man since 1989.  Cameron Crowe: using ridiculously sweet songs in his movies since the beginning.

2.   Randy Edelman & Trevor Jones’s theme song to Last of the Mohicans

In order to create a song that matched the epicity of Daniel Day Lewis’s character, Hawkeye, Edelman and Jones must have had to sell their souls to the devil.  Luckily for us, they did, and were able to lay down the single most badass song I have ever heard:

And of course, in our top spot, another gem from Cameron Crowe

1. Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” in Almost Famous

If you have never had a latenight group singalong to “Tiny Dancer,” well my friend, you just haven’t lived.