Archive for January, 2009
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
I like the Razzies, even more than I like the Oscars. The Golden Raspberry awards don’t have a season, you see. So while you need to scramble to the theatres to watch Milk, Benjamin Button, The Wrestler and so many others before the Oscars come and go, there is a much better chance that I will have seen several, if not all, of the worst movies of the year when the nominations are announced. So here are my thoughts, the nominations having been announced yesterday.
Disaster Movie / Meet the Spartans: They get crammed together because for all intents and purposes, they are the same movie. I avoided both of these, having learned my lesson very quickly from Epic Movie and Date Movie. As such I have no rating. But I have no doubt that they are both giant turds.
The Happening (2/10): An absolutely abysmal movie from one of the people who must be considered one of the worst directors working today. Mark Wahlberg is terrible, and wind blowing through barley is not scary. This movie is awful.
The Hottie And the Nottie (0/10): I reviewed this one in conjuction with Jessica Simpson’s Blonde Ambition, because I couldn’t stand to devote an entire review to either piece of crap. Of the two, this one was worse. And that is really saying something.
In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2/10): Jason Statham made fifty-eight movies this year. Three were great, fifty-five were absolutely dreadful. This was the worst of the bunch. Uwe Boll continues to prove that he is deserving of his “Worst Director Alive” title. This movie cost $60 million, and made $5 million at the box office. Twelve of those dollars, sadly, were mine.
The Love Guru (2/10): Not quite as awful as the others on the list…but it’s pretty bad. In fact, it is downright abysmal.
Who Should Win: Really, this category comes down to “what do you consider to be a movie”. If you consider The Hottie And The Nottie to actually be a movie, then that’s your winner. If you consider it to be a half-assed attempt at nothing, then you go for the movie that was actually trying to be a movie, and that is In The Name Of The King.
What was left out: Postal (1/10).
Worst Actor nominees:
Larry The Cable Guy: Witless Protection: Haven’t seen it. Thank God.
Eddie Murphy: Meet Dave: Haven’t seen it. Thank God.
Mike Myers: The Love Guru: Yes, yes yes. Just putting on an accent doesn’t make you funny. This was one of the worst, most irritating acting performances I have ever seen from someone who is supposed to be good.
Al Pacino: 88 Minutes/Righteous Kill: Yes, for 88 Minutes more so than for Righteous Kill. In Righteous Kill, he was phoning it in, sure. But in 88 Minutes, he gave one of the worst acting performances I have ever seen from someone who is supposed to be great.
Mark Wahlberg: The Happening and Max Payne: I haven’t seen Max Payne. But Wahlberg is absolutely dreadful in The Happening, one of the worst performances in one of the worst movies of the year.
Who should win: Few characters and actors in any movie in the last few years have approached the irritation factor that Mike Myers achieves in The Love Guru.
Who was missed: Ray Liotta in In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Worst actress nominees:
Jessica Alba: The Eye and The Love Guru: Certainly deserving for The Love Guru, although she isn’t in it enough to be specifically irritating. And the rest of the cast is bad enough that her performance doesn’t specifically stand out as terrible. I haven’t see The Eye.
The entire cast of The Women: Annette Bening, who is normally great, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Meg Ryan had me longing for the cast of Sex And The City. And that, in itself, is quite a sad accomplishment.
Cameron Diaz: What Happens in Vegas: Haven’t seen it. But I believe it.
Paris Hilton: The Hottie and the Nottie: A gimme. Slam dunk. Imagine she hadn’t got a nomination?
Kate Hudson: Fool’s Gold / My Best Friend’s Girl: Haven’t seen either. Thankfully.
Who should win: Paris Hilton wasn’t hired as an “actress”, nor is she supposed to be one. Therefore she is disqualified, as far as I’m concerned. However, the cast of The Women are all supposed to be actresses. And they come off as cackling, ludicrous caricatures of First Wives Club knock-off imitators. Garbage.
Who was left out: Sigourney Weaver in Vantage Point.
Worst Supporting actor nominees:
Uwe Boll (as himself) in Postal: This one shouldn’t count, because at the very least he’s making fun of himself. He knows he’s awful, and he is somhow able to revel in it. I actually give him props for this god-awful performance.
Pierce Brosnan: Mamma Mia!: Haven’t seen it. But I believe it.
Ben Kingsley: The Love Guru, War, Inc and The Wackness: I have yet to see the Wackness. But Kingsley is AS irritating as Mike Myers in The Love Guru, and he is pretty annoying in War, Inc. as well.
Burt Reynolds: Deal / In The Name of the King: Haven’t seen Deal. But he certainly qualifies for In The Name of the King, since everyone in that movie appears to be competing for Who Can Suck The Most.
Verne Troyer: The Love Guru / Postal: Again, not really fair. All he is being asked to do in both films is play a really little guy. And that’s supposed to be really funny in and of itself. The fact that it isn’t says more about the film makers than it does about Troyer. The fact that he is, actually, a rotten actor is irrelevant here.
Who should win: Ben Kingsley. Mostly because he should be so much better than this.
Who was left out: The rest of the cast of In The Name of the King.
Worst supporting actress nominees:
Carmen Electra: Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie: Give her a break, these are the only movies in which she can find work. Just because she’s a generally terrible actress, we like to dump on her. And that’s fine. But I assume she was in each of these movies for a total of nine sucky seconds.
Paris Hilton: Repo, the Genetic Opera: Again, she isn’t an actress. Shouldn’t count.
Kim Kardashian: Disaster Movie: Still…not an actress. But I am certain that she is awful a la Paris Hilton.
Leelee Sobieski: In The Name of the King / 88 Minutes: Everyone in In The Name of the King was truly horrible. But next to Pacino in 88 Minutes, how could anyone do a good job?
Jenny McCarthy: Witless Protection: Shouldn’t really be considered an actress either, but she is, so she counts.
Who should win: Jenny McCarthy.
Who was left out: Bette Midler, in The Women.
Worst screen couple nominees:
Uwe Boll and any actor in any movie
Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, What Happens in Vegas
Paris Hilton and either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore in The Hottie And the Nottie
Larry the Cable Guy and Jenny McCarthy in Witless Protection
Eddie Murphy, inside Eddie Murphy, in Meet Dave
Who should win: Paris Hilton and anyone else, for The Hottie And the Nottie. The others are supposedly real actors.
Who was left out: Pacino and DeNiro in Righteous Kill.
Worst prequel, remake, rip-off, or sequel nominees:
The Day the Eartth Stood Still (5/10)
Disaster Movie / Meet the Spartans
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (6/10)
Star Wars: Clone Wars (5/10)
Who Should win: It’s about time someone gives a little love at this year’s razzies for what are probably the worst movies of the year – Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans.
What was missed: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Worst director nominees:
Uwe Boll: Postal, In The Name of the King, 1968: Tunnel Rats: Well, you know he had to make it in here. He IS, after all, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Golden Raspberry Award this year from the Razzies.
Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer: Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans: Two of the worst movies ever, in the Epic Movie and Date Movie mold, surely deserve Worst Director nominations.
Tom Putnam: The Hottie and the Nottie: The guy was asked to helm a Paris Hilton starring vehicle. Even Scorcese couldn’t have made this watchable. It isn’t the director’s fault that he is so low on the Hollywood totem pole that he was asked to do this.
Marco Schnabel: The Love Guru: A truly dreadful directorial effort, but much of the blame for this turd has to fall on the shoulders of Mike Myers.
M. Night Shyamalan: The Happening: This guy is really heading for enshrinement in the Lifetime Achievement Razzie awards if he keeps making movies like his last few.
Who should win: Shyamalan. He really deserves to be considered, alongside Boll, as one of the Worst Directors alive. It has been a long time since The Sixth Sense.
Who was left out: Jon Avnet, Righteous Kill. Anyone who has DeNiro and Pacino to work with had better come up with something better than that.
Worst Screenplay nominees:
The Hottie and the Nottie (Heidi Ferrer)
The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan)
Disaster Movie / Meet the Spartans (Friedberg & Seltzer)
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (Doug Taylor)
The Love Guru (Mike Myers & Graham Gordy)
Who should win: In The Name of the King owes most of the blame for it’s suckiness to Uwe Boll. The Hottie and the Nottie owes much of it’s suckiness to Paris Hilton. Really, this comes down to a two-way race between The Love Guru and The Happening, since the people behind the movies are also the ones who wrote them. I will give the edge to The Love Guru, because by now Mike Myers ought to know how to play to his strengths. And he sure doesn’t.
That’s it for the Razzies, still the most accurate and best awards of the year. The Oscar nominees were announced while I was typing this – but I think I will wait until right before the awards to discuss them, because I still haven’t seen half the movies on the lists.
Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
Years: 1968, 1969
Genre: TV series, Drama
Country: United States
Starring: Mike Connors, Gail Fisher, Joseph Campanella, Ward Wood, Robert Reed
Creator: Lalo Schifrin
Run time: 21 hours 18 minutes
DVD distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD extras: Not much of anything
Related reviews: Mannix Season Two, Mannix Season Three
Season Two of Mannix is, in almost every way, superior to Season One. One of the few ways in which Season Two is worse is in the titles of the episodes. Season One had some classic, silly titles. Like, “Skid Marks On A Dry Run”, and such and such. Season Two can’t manage that level of hilariousness, the best they can come up with is “The End Of The Rainbow”. Lame. The episodes aren’t much different than they were in the first season. They are either formulaic and obvious, in a generic way, or formulaic and obvious to the point that none of the characters’ motivations make any sense.
The best thing about Season Two is Gail Fisher, who plays Mannix’s assistant Peggy. She adds some much-needed charm to the show, and also provides a convenient means to introduce new cases for Mannix to crack. Peggy, you see, seems to date several men, and each one is either a crook out to do something dreadful, or a sweet innocent man being framed for doing something dreadful. And that way, Mannix can delve into some kind of conspiracy without leaving the office. His office, in Season Two, is his own – that’s another good thing.
In Season One, he worked for a detective agency, a massive Big-Box Detective Company called Intertect. Now he works on his own. This is good, because the concept of a Big-Box Detective Agency called Intertect was ridiculous. He may as well, at that point, have been Batman, with the big supercomputers spitting out the identity of killers and so forth. It took the cleverness out of the work. Of course, in Season Two, he occasionally sends Peggy back to Intertect when he needs some data from a supercomputer of some kind. But at least a privately-owned detective business makes more sense.
Then again, it really doesn’t matter. He could be a construction worker or a graphic designer and the show would be the same, as long as he was a nosy and smart busybody construction worker or graphic designer. Because almost no one ever hires him by walking into his office. Just about every case he tackles is one he stumbles across. Either Peggy is dating a bad guy, and Mannix investigates. Or he overhears a conversation in a police station where a deaf girl describes a murder plot. He’s like Jessica Fletcher – always in the right place at the right time to Stop Murders. And since just about every case he takes is done solely to help one of his friends, or to save himself, I have no idea how he actually makes money.
I suppose we are to believe that between the cases that are interesting enough to make it onto TV, Mannix is running around finding lost cats, and taking pictures from his car of wayward wives and philandering husbands, and convincing runaways to return home, and whatever else it is that private investigators do for money. I’m not sure what he would do if some stranger came to his office with a real case. I suspect that he would immediately question their motives, investigate them, and discover that yes, they were indeed a part of a vast criminal conspiracy. No one is innocent in Mannix.
The second season IS considerably better than the first, but I would still like to see a few things happen. Every episode, as in the first season, involves some smoking hot woman. I would like to see Mannix sleep with them all. Or Peggy could sleep with them all. Either way. I could also use a little more wisecracking. Mannix is way too serious, and from what I understand, there is not a private investigator alive who is both serious and successful. They all crack wise. Why not Mannix? (Or Cannon, for that matter?) Also, I’m a little worried about Mannix and his brain function. He gets knocked out cold a lot. Like, twice every three episodes. I’m certain Eric Lindros’ doctors wouldn’t let him back into the Private Eye game after that. He can’t possibly be cleared to play.
All in all, Mannix is improving from season to season. Peggy is a nice addition, Intertect is a nice omission, and the hot chick guest stars are always welcome. The Second Season of Mannix came out January 6th, from Paramount Home Entertainment. I am looking forward to Season Three now. Perhaps then he will be knocked out less, take actual cases, have sex with the women he should be having sex with, and start to loosen up enough to crack wise. All of that ought to get him a seven-star rating, at least!
Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
Ordinarily, I am all over these lists at the end of the year. I love reading peoples’ selections for the best and worst movies, whether that person be Roger Ebert or Peter Travers or Jim From Spokane. I was going to skip out on it entirely this year, however, because I haven’t seen some of the movies considered to be the best. I have yet to take in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Milk, and Slumdog Millionaire, and countless others. But I will go ahead with my own list anyway, and once I see those films, I will come back and edit this list if need be. Here goes, with the best of the year:
1. The Dark Knight. The best acting, the best cast, the best story, the best action, and far and away the best villain of the year. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was in no way enhanced in my perception because of his death. Rather, his death loomed larger, and became more tragic, because of the power of this performance. He looks, talks, and even walks like an absolute lunatic, one who exudes danger, lunacy and an incredible menace all at once. This is the best comic book movie ever made, and Ledger’s Joker is perhaps the best movie villain of all time. I’ll let him fight it out with Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates.
2. WALL-E. An absolutely breathtaking achievement. I have seen a few movie critics who believe that this movie signals the end of the need for actual actors in movies. I wouldn’t go that far. I will only go so far as to say that this is the best, most brilliant movie ever made for children. It is also one of the top-five science fiction movies in history, up there with one of it’s clear inspirations, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Absolutely stunning, charming, and magnificent.
3. In Bruges. An absolutely perfect movie. It’s little, it’s modest, but it’s staggeringly offensive, and by far the funniest movie of the year. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are magnificent as hitmen sent to cool their heels in Bruges, a quaint and picturesque town in Europe. Ralph Fiennes is side-splittingly funny as their brutal, murderous boss, and the dialogue is spot-on. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. In Bruges is one of the great black comedies. Ever.
4. Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood still has it. And Gran Torino continues his impressive streak of impressive movies. This is the last hurrah for Dirty Harry, the Man With No Name, William Munny, and Josey Wales. This is how Eastwood sees all the characters he has played over his career, now, through the lens of history and the filter of age. Another incredible, powerful, movieng (but decidedly UN-sappy) achievement from perhaps the best director working today.
5. Iron Man. It’s a good thing this movie came out when it did, before The Dark Knight took over the movie world. That way, Iron Man managed to get some praise as “the best movie of the year” before it was supplanted. And deservedly so. Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic as Tony Stark. The special effects are terrific. The story is fantastic. And everything else about this movie is totally engrossing. It’s as close to perfect as movies get without being The Dark Knight.
Honourable mention to Kung Fu Panda, Burn After Reading, Shine A Light, and The Bank Job.
Constantine’s Sword. A fascinating, incredible documentary about the history of Christianity, and the evils that have been done in the name of the religion throughout history. The movie is based on a book by James Carroll, and Carroll takes us through the crusades, the emperor Constantine, and the rise of anti-semitism. A tragic, but illuminating movie that is the best documentary of 2008.
A Hole In A Fence. Yes, it’s a movie about a hole in a fence. And yes, it’s less than 45 minutes in length. But the way it’s shot is remarkable, and the story is compelling, and this little gem is worth seeking out.
American Teen. A really interesting look at five real-life teenagers and their high school trials and tribulations. At times it comes off like an after-school special, but the fact that real lives are like this adds credence to after-school specials, and doesn’t detract from this documentary. Very interesting.
Passion And Power. A truly fascinating, educational and funny look at the history of female orgasms and vibrators. Terrific stuff!
Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
Again, just like the “best” list, this “worst” list will omit several movies. Really, truly, terrible movies that I have yet to see. And should I need to do so, I will return and edit this list as well. But in this case, several of the worst movies of 2008 are those I have intentionally skipped. Who, really, wanted to watch Disaster Movie? So I can’t discuss some of these crapfests, because I skipped them, knowing they would be crapfests. So for now, these are the worst movies I have seen this year:
1. The Hottie And The Nottie. Paris Hilton. Is not a movie star. She is not a movie actress. She is barely qualified to play the “girl serving coffee” in a restaurant. And yet, movies are made that insist she is leading-lady material. This is one of them. Paris Hilton is not hot enough to be a “hottie” in a movie like this. And she is not good enough to be in any movie, ever. Aside from Paris Hilton, though, this movie is dreadful.
2. Blonde Ambition. A remarkable movie, in the sense that no one watching will be able to figure out why it was made. Obviously intended to be a starring vehicle for Jessica Simpson, this movie goes through the motions so painfully that it barely even registers as a movie. Just about every single actor in the film is phoning it in. Luke Wilson is phoning it in, I think – but with him, a phoned-in performance is similar to his regular performance. And Jessica Simpson is trying. Really, really hard. And that is the saddest thing of all.
3. Legacy. In a movie that almost screams “written for Paris Hilton”, Haylie Duff struggles through her role as the “hot girl” without being hot enough to play one. I think this movie is supposed to be tongue in cheek. I think. But it isn’t smart enough, either way, to make that clear. Oh, and it involves Tom Green. And a scene that is truly offensive and disgusting where a girl wipes semen on the face of another girl. Nothing about this movie is pleasant, and nothing about it is good.
4. The Love Guru. Michael Myers having an accent does not make everything he says funny. Jessica Alba can be eye candy in a movie, but as soon as she starts acting, the movie becomes bad. Justin Timberlake can be very funny, and very good, but not when he has an accent. And Verne Troyer is not funny just because he’s a dwarf. Had Mike Myers realized any of these things, he would not have made this god-awful movie. But Mike Myers still thinks accents alone are enough to carry movie. And this is what we get.
5. Pulse 3. The worst in what was already a pretty bad series of movies. An absolutely atrocious “horror movie” that assumes that even had she been locked in a cage without light or books or external stimulus for fifteen years, a sixteen-year-old girl would automatically know internet language. And that although electronic devices like cell phones and computers can’t be used, electronic devices like Stealth bombers and nuclear bombs can. There is nothing scary about this film, nothing interesting about it, and watching it could drop your IQ by ten to twelve points.
6. Prom Night. I am not among those who consider the original Prom Night to be a horror classic. But I still feel bad for those people who made that first movie and then saw their concept totally sullied and disparaged by this silly and obvious piece of shit. Absolutely nothing interesting happens, at all, during this entire “film”. This one is as bad as movies get.
7. The Transporter 3. Another third installment in a useless series. This time, the standard Transporter stuff is decent, but the female lead, played by Natalya Rudakova, is one of the most annoying, painful-to-watch characters in recent memory. And we have to put up with her throughout the whole movie, and then she is a heroine at the end, and doesn’t even get killed. And when Jason Statham ends up her boyfriend, all that cool stuff he did earlier - jumping his car onto a moving train, stunt-driving on two wheels between 18-wheelers – goes out the window. He ended up with her? He’s a sissy.
8. Drillbit Taylor. There is real promise for this movie. Owen Wilson is good, the kids involved are good, the writers are good. Which means that the film makes this list not so much because of the quality of it, but rather because it was so very, very disappointing.
9. Vantage Point. Also disappointing in the sense that a movie with all these big stars can suck so very much. Also disappointing in the sense that a movie about an assassination of a president can suck so very much. Or a movie based on a concept from the 1950 classic Rashomon could…suck so…very very much. But it does. This movie sucks very very much. Oh, Matthew Fox from Lost? You know what’s interesting about him? Nothing.
10. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. When a movie stars Brendan Fraser, you know almost automatically that it will be for kids, it will involve cheesy dialogue, it will have silly action set pieces, and it will likely suck. Journey To the Center of the Earth is no exception. The 3-D stuff was kinda cool, but that seemed to be all the film makers cared about. The story and dialogue and acting was awful.
11. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Brendan Fraser and his silliness aside, the rest of this film is even worse. Two of the greatest martial arts movie actors ever, Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li, have one of the worst sword fights I’ve ever seen. And don’t get me started on the abominable snowmen.
Honourable mention to Superhero Movie, Death Race, The Ruins, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, 10,000 B.C., Strange Wilderness, Mad Money, Hero Wanted, and the glorious Steven Seagal tandem of Kill Switch and Pistol Whipped. Would you believe that this means Jason Statham is in three of the worst movies of the year, and also one of the best? (He’s also in 38 others that didn’t make either cut.)