Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sundance Night Three: Indie Night

Back on up to Park City for the world premiere of Baghead.

The Duplass brothers' second movie follows four wannabe actors who, after seeing an (terribly done) indie movie at a film festival made for just under $1000 decide to hole themselves up in a cabin at Big Bear and write a star vehicle for all four of them.

Unfortunately, hidden intentions, desires, and booze get in the way of writing. The first night, one of the girls stumbles into the night to throw up. After puking, she spots a man, standing in the woods, watching her, wearing a bag on his head. She immediately freaks and wakes up in her bed, in the morning.

Spurred by her apparent dream, they begin to write a horror movie involving a killer with a bag over his head. But, after walking through the woods, the two men find the vomit. Was it actually a dream? Is someone actually watching them?

Expertly balancing comedy and horror, the movie is not too bad. It's Indie, for sure. But, it's got heart, is decently funny, and, at times, down right scary. I enjoyed it. I was surrounded by a "Too-Cool-For-School" crowd of Starbucks drinking, Prius drivers, so that got a little old. Everyone thought too much of themselves and gave the "That was amazing" too all involved (while secretly hating the creators for completing a simple movie and managed to get it to play at Sundance) - which was distracting, but all in all, it was good. Nothing to write home about, but for what it is, it's good. 

I'll give it a B-

And, to add to the point that it's decent for the crowd it plays to - Baghead was bought the next day by a distributor (one of the few movies this year that was actually bought). So, bravo. Shot in an interesting, efficient style (and economical), I'll be interested to see how it runs at the BO and Blockbuster.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sundance Night Two: Too Many Movies in a Row

Have you ever stood in line at the grocery store, or at a restaurant, or at Blockbuster with just a shit-load of things you want, thinking (at the time) that you're so hungry/bored/excited that all this stuff will be perfect for you - and you need it. Only to find out when you get home that renting High School Musical One and Two was a really bad idea. That you can only take so much sugary goodness in one setting (and to offset this, you go look at the naked cell phone pics of Vanessa Hudgens - but feel like a pedophile 'cause she's only like 12.... okay, so yeah, neither have I....).

Welcome to my Saturday (though without naked Vanessa - but if it were that Zac Efron - let me tell you, they story might be different)! In attempting to get tickets to all the movies I wanted to see, I majorly loaded up for my first Saturday night. Keeping in mind, I didn't get home from Diary until 3 in the morning the night before.

So, yes, in a mad dash to savor Sundance-y goodness, I bought tickets for three movies that all started just about back to back. I've given them a day to gell (cause that's what my mind was after sitting in cramped, artsy theaters for over seven hours), so hopefully my thoughts are lucid and free of the clown midget that seemed to permeate them last night come hour seven.

Starting at 6:30, at the Rose Wagner theatre in Salt Lake City, was Sunshine Cleaning. So, starting off - what other movie do you think of when you read that title? Yep, that's it. Sundance's own, record-setting sale of 2006 - Little Miss Sunshine. So, let's do a little fun exercise comparing the two.

Title: Sunshine Cleaning / Little Miss Sunshine
Plot: A dysfunctional family tries to find where they belong / a dysfunctional family finds where they belong
Actors: Alan Arkin plays the eccentirc grandpa with a heart of gold / Alan Arkin plays the eccentric grandpa with a heart of gold
Opening Montage: Shots of the cast one at a time, orchestral music playing, in character establishing, funny scenes /Shots of the cast one at a time, orchestral music playing, in character establishing, funny scenes
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico / Albuquerque, New Mexico

Okay, so we can stop - let's just say, it borrows more than a few plays from Little Miss Sunshine. Now, I love LMS - it is one of my all-time favorite movies (see earlier post), so any film that would try to achieve the same effect using similar things is up against a difficult task.

But, I have to admit - I really liked it. Not to say that it's perfect, but it's good. The performances by Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, and Alan Arkin are fantastic - as two sisters and their father who are struggling to make ends meat and peace with each other/their own selves. Adams and Blunt form a cleaning company to cleanup after crime scenes. This, of course, leads to genuinely funny and heartbreaking scenes. The movie never treats the subject of death lightly - yet it finds all the humor it can in it. 

Not every plot threads work - some leave you scratching your heads - but it works overall. It manages to mine the spectrum of emotions that very few movies do. It's definitely recommended - though don't go expecting a completely amazing, emotional movie that LMS was.

Rating: B+

Next: Time Crimes
Okay, so I had enough time to grab a bite at the Olive Garden, but had to run (okay, I had to quickly waddle - that damn Olive Garden food fills you up) to my car in order to speed over Broadway cinemas to catch my next movie.

Time Crimes is a Spanish film about a man who, while living out in the country, spies a woman undressing in the woods up in the hills near his house. He (of course) heads into the woods to investigate (as any pervert would.... okay, so any guy). In the woods, he finds the undressed girl unconscious. As he leans in closer to see if she's alright (yeah, right) a figure in a black trench coat with pink bandages over his head jumps out and stabs him in the arm. The man runs and the figure chases him up the hill. The man finds a laboratory atop the hill. Climbing into a tank to hide - he awakens 6 hours earlier. And the movie goes on (time conventions and hilarity ensues).

So, here's what works: Time travel movies are cool when executed well - and this one is executed petty well. There are all sorts of little things that happen in the first twenty minutes that are unexplained - and they get explained as the main character travels back in time. And then, of course, there are more weird things that happen. It's really interesting. And the twist toward the end is pretty cool.

And, okay, here's what doesn't work: If you know time movies - just about everything will be kinda predictable. With that - it hits stretches where it gets kinda boring. The movie also backs itself into a corner (which is cool as it happens) by the end. You feel "How is this going to end?" And I bet the filmmakers felt the same dilemma - so they just ended it. The ending was weak. It took a halfway decent (depending on how well you can predict movies) movie and killed it - leaving you unsatisfied. The movie also bounces between genres. At first it's creepy and slightly erotic (and why not - it's a Spanish film, aren't they all?), then scary, then sci-fi, then it bounces all over. You name it, it hits upon it - so you're never sure what to feel.

All in all, worth a shot, but wait for the DVD and only if you're a fan of time travel movies. If you want to see a truly great time travel Sundance movie - go rent Primer (won Sundance Jury Award (or something like that) in 2004). In fact, one of the people I saw Time Crimes with describe it as "Primer, if Primer were a comic book." Aaaaaaand, that's not a compliment.

Grade: C+

Number three: The Broken
Okay, so after two movies - my butt was tired and my mind was getting slow. And it was getting late. And I was wishing that I had tickets for this movie at another time - but at least it was only a few blocks away. Ditching the Time Crimes Q&A, I ran over to the Tower theatre to follow cadre of freaks that stalks SLC Sundance for the next movie.

So, okay, got to talk to some other Sundancers who'd hit all the movies that I had that night. It was nice to get some oppressed thoughts out of my already crammed mind.

So, at Midnight (taking into mind that I got into SLC at like 6 o'clock) I started the final movie of the night. The Broken is a British film (look! I celebrate diversity, I watched two foreign movies in one night!) about a woman who after seeing herself drive by, follows her to an apartment where she finds a picture of herself and her dad. She blanks out and clicks back in a car, driving away. Her car veers into another car and she goes into a coma. 

Waking up a bit later, she notices that her boyfriend is no longer acting like himself. Slowly, as she tries to piece together her missing memory, everyone around her starts to change - and she begins to suspect something sinister at work.

So, yeah, let's dissect.

Good: Man, this movie nails atmosphere extremely well. The writer/director introduced the film and said he made it in the spirit of Edgan Allen Poe. The movie is scary and very creepy. It keeps you guessing and really twists everything around in a very "Ahhh.... of course, it all makes sense now" kind of way. Plus, Lena Heady, so hot and cool. I'm glad I'm seeing more of her in movies and on TV (she's Sarah Connor on the new Terminator show). I really like the movie.

Bad: until it ended. Then I realized that the movie had no point. There wasn't really a theme or a message (even bleak movies like The Ring or Memento have a theme and leave you thinking about something when it ends). When The Broken ended, all I was left thinking was "Wait.... what was the point of that?" It didn't really have one. It was like the writer/director had a cool creepy idea, built a movie around it but didn't bother to dig any deeper to themes and deeper meanings.

Well, so, were it not for that (and, let's be honest, only cynical pranks like me will have a problem with this - most people will really like it), the movie would be really good. But, sadly, I need more meat in my movies, so I give it a B-.

So, all in all, not a bad night. I didn't dislike any of them as I watching them - I've got to say, I love going to all these movies not really knowing anything about them. It is so cool to see interesting, fresh movies one after another.

Ooh, ooh! And, the best part of Time Crimes was an Australian short that was shown before the film. It was a very scary, well-done short about two people who trespass on a private tennis court. Look for Match: Satan anywhere that you can - and turn up the volume loud (it was so loud in the theater - which made it really intense). It's good.

So, I will sign off for now and come back after my next few Sundance endeavors.



Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sundance, Night One: Diary of the Dead

Well, here we go. Last night I braved 6 degree temperatures, incoherent bus drivers, large crowds, and the dark to journey up to Park City for the first movie I had tickets for - the Premiere of George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead.

And let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed.

I came into the movie with trepidation - Romero is in his 70s or 80s or something (which is kind of old and possibly out of touch with today's horror/movie audiences). His last movie was Land of the Dead - an awful, poorly done, kinda boring, Sci-Fi Saturday movie that was too saturated with a preachy "Gulf between the rich and poor" message. And it really wasn't scary. And Dennis Hopper was in it. As the bad guy. And Dennis Hopper sucks.

But, imagine my surprise, when the movie turned out to be not only scary, but genuinely relevant, realistic, and with a thought-provoking message.

The movie is thus:

The film is the edited footage of a group of college kids who, after seven days in the isolated woods shooting a horror film (shocker - haven't I seen this setup in a million different movies), come to find out that the world has gone to hell around them. Zombies are loose and attacking. So they venture back to the city to save the Director's girlfriend. After getting her, they set out in their Winnebago to get to her home and check on her family. And zombie hilarity ensues.

The story, though visually told from the director's POV, is told from his girlfriend's POV. She has taken the footage shot - with other footage found - and edited their story together - a documentary on the end of the world. What makes this movie work so well (on so many levels) is the fact that everything we see is shot by the characters - it's all from their view. It's intensely claustrophobic and terrifying. You're never allowed to sit back and look around - you're entrenched in their nightmare.

The movie is about the danger of relying on the media (in all it's various sources) for information, instead of seeking out the truth. In the day of MSNBC, FOXNEWS, YouTube, and Blogger - this is pretty relevant and interesting stuff. And, like all great zombie movies, the movie also examines human behavior by placing humans in extreme circumstances - and questioning what it means to be human. Trust me, the end scene is chilling.

So, starting off the festival on the right foot. I give this movie an A-. At times it fell into cliche, but it managed to pull out quickly. The acting is spot on - you feel like nearly the whole thing was adlibbed (though it wasn't). It only falters when it tries to be cinematic. Great movie - recommended for horror fans and movie fans alike.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Read this Post if You Want to Live Part 2: Judgement Day

Okay, so I'm finally back. Let me start by saying that I have all the good intentions of Ted Kaznyski to write on this thing everyday - promise to Maude - but life continually finds ways to piss me off (see: work) and take up my time (see: work). I'm finally back for the second half of my review for the Terminator TV show premiere (coincidentally, the second half of that premiere).

Aaaaaannnnnddd..... the same as before. A few interesting plot points that may go somewhere - but a lot of similar things we've seen before.

Is there anything I need to update on....? Umm... no, not really. If you want to check it out, do so, you'll not be too far behind after missing the two part pilot. And, let's face it, unless you want to watch Men in Trees (which, shockingly, has new episodes stockpiled like right-wing basements, circa 1999), this might be the best thing to watch if you're looking for new TV (damn you studios! just settle with the writers!).

So, moving onto bigger and brighter - SUNDANCE started yesterday!

I'm proud to say that I have tickets for nine movies this year (including three premieres)! Tonight I kick off the shebacle with George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. Now, George invented the zombie diary, and this sounds exciting and new, but we'll have to see (his last endeavor, Land of the Dead, was like a bad Saturday afternoon Sci-Fi TV movie). I'll try to give moment to moment (see: every coupla days) updates and reviews of these, hopefully, great movies.

Until then, remember:

Sadie Loves Mommy!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Read this Post if You Want to Live

Future/time-traveling movies fascinate Sadie (yes, you'll think less of her, but even Jean Claude Van Damme's TimeCop got her blood pumping - but who can argue against some dude in a banana hammock doing the splits across the counter to avoid a laser blast?). Part of this being that Sadie has lived many different lives (some in the future - I bet you wish I'd stop rambling and tell you those stories) and these type of stories remind her of her own life.

And what's the mother of all these type of stories? The Terminator series. Now, number three aside (Sadie refuses to accept it as cannon), this series rocks. It plays with the notion of violence and man's tendencies toward self-destruction. At a higher level it examines the different philosophies of Fate versus Destiny (and all the paradoxes that go with time travel).

So, Sadie was tickled pink (don't tell her I said that - it's embarrassing) when Fox announced The Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles (and I dare you to try and say "Sarah Connor Chronicles" three times fast - it's impossible!) - a Terminator TV series that picks up after number two, with Sarah and future messiah John Connor on the run from... well... everyone.

Here's Sadie's review of part one of the pilot:

Sadie loves mommy.

Okay, so, well, articulate - she may not be. Let me give this a shot for her...

The goods: Good production value. How do you follow up one of the most influential films as far as special effects go (T2)? Tough act to follow, even 17 years (can you believe it? Man, I feel old) after it came out. Well, they do a decent job. Makeup, effects, etc is up to par. The actors are all pretty good (the guy pulling an Arnold impersonation kinda sucks, but how do you imitate one of the most iconic characters ever?). Lena Headey is a good Sarah Connor. What she lacks in Physical prowess, she gives a hint at her emotional breadth (which is what we'll really need). Summer Glau as Cameron, the new terminator, seems pretty cool. This was one of my favorite parts of the new show. The upside to the premise is that it seems future John has sent people and others back in time, in (possibly) various places to leave tech and other things to help our heroes.

The bad: the plot seems like a rehash of T2 and, well... T3. It seems that though they sacrificed all to stop Skynet from being built, it only prolonged the building 14 years. In 2011 (I believe) Skynet will go online and judgement day will happen. So, they hop forward from 1999 to 2007 to see who will build it and stop them. Sounds like the others? Umm... yeah. For something that is supposed to RetCon T3, it sounds just like it (minus "I only take roles in bad movies" Kristina Lokken). So, so far, nothing new really. The action is cool, but it all seems familiar.

The good to the bad: the setup could be very cool, and we're only one, introductory episode in. The previews for part two of the pilot (tonight) look like they might add a new twist and dimension. It's got potential, boys and girls. Let's hope they take it. This definitely could be cool.

Were I to do it (this should be a new feature of the blog where I talk about how cool I would have made something (example: World War 2. Two words: Giant Snakes)), I would ditch the Skynet always is risen angle, it'll get old fast (it's been done, twice). Instead, do you ever wonder where the robots got their look from? Why not have the robots sent back to present, unaware of who they are and why they're there (no knowledge of judgement day or any machine/man war). They have core programming, but don't know anything else. As around, they run into live humans who resemble them (hint: get Governator to make an appearance in the second season, he should be out of office by then, I would think). So, we not have the imagesake of the killer robots, robots from an unknown future. Now our group has to put it all together to figure out what the future actually is and if they have to prevent anything at all.

Heck, I'd even go in that direction with the current "Judgement Day will happen" storyline. They encounter people who are the spittin' image of the killer robots. How do they fit in? Do they create Skynet? Etc. Much more interesting. So, we'll have to see how things pan out.

So, the Sadie grade on this new show: A Tentative B (opportunity to be really good, but could fall into banal repetitiveness rather quickly). Sadie will update after tonight's part two.

Sadie loves mommy!

Monday, January 7, 2008

The End-All, Be-All List (of whatever I feel like today...)

So, ever since the movie reviews, everyone - and I do mean everyone - has been asking Sadie what her favorite movies are. Now, I know, for a dog, you'd expect Lassie, Old Yeller (though, that would be a morbid choice for a Dog's favorite movie), 101 Dalmations or even Air Bud.

That's not the case with our Sadie, though.

Bless her heart, she has class and taste. Without any further adeiu (though I love to write adeiu), let me present my - er - Sadie's top movies from the past 10 years:

2007: No Country for Old Men
Let's be honest - Juno might be my favorite movie of the year - but there was something about the Coehn brother's haunting, stark, subversive western/thriller that still sticks with me. I can't stop thinking about that movie. From the muted, powerful performances (hats off to Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly MacDonald, and especially Javier Barden (one of the scariest characters ever), to the convention-breaking, yet still amazing, structure, to the coitus-interruptis ending(s) that leave you spinning - this is a movie that you have to talk to someone about. It's powerful and scary, yet quiet and simple - yet massively deep and complex. This is a movie that needs to be seen. A thinking man's movie.
Second Best: Juno. Just an amazing, funny, poignant, powerful little movie about real people who really care about each other. Ellen Page deserves and Oscar (so does everything about this movie). This is one for everyone that everyone should see.
Hon Mention: Bourne Ultimatum

2006: This was a packed year of goodness. I'll try to expound.
Best: Little Miss Sunshine - never has a dysfunctional family road trip movie made me laugh and feel so much. Fantastic performances by the entire cast. This is Steve Carrell at his best. A powerhouse of a movie that never gets old. Great script, acting, and heart. It'll be a long time before another movie makes me feel like this one did.
Second: The Departed. Martin Scorcesse's best film - which, consequently, won him his first Best Picture and Best Director (including Best Adapted Screenplay) awards. Just an edge-of-your-seat, who's double-crossing who now, thriller. I don't think Mark Whalberg could be a cooler Badass - and, hey, this is the movie that finally broke Leo DiCaprio out of teen heartthrob and into a full-fledged, amazing actor. Probably the best movie of the year (though I still favor LMS).
Third: Children of Men. Alfonso Curaon got screwed in '06. Children of Men, one of the most powerful, inventive, original sci-fi/drama/thriller movies ever came out too late in a year where there were already too many good movies. An incredibly cool hook (humanity will be dead in thirty years) with amazing directing. I was entranced watching this movie and the war scene during the end is not only terrifying - it ends on one of the most visually powerful (and by visually, I mean no words were spent for the incredible emotion) scenes ever.
Fourth: Brick. Rian Johnson's Noir High School Crime movie is not only original and inventive, it's captivating. Like a finely crafted wine, it starts out slow but builds to one of the most satisfying endings of any movies of its kind. Just downright a great movie.
Fifth: Streanger Than Fiction. Who would have imagined that a Will Ferrell movie would be this good? Not only is he funny- he's human, he's tragic, he's heroic. It was advertised poorly - but don't let impressions fool you, this Kauffman-esqu film is tip top.

2005: King Kong. Now, now, you may call foul after I say this - but seriously, when was the last time you saw a movie that you enjoyed this much and reminded you why we have movies in the first place. Pete Jackson's homage to the classic movie did more than just fill the time - it excited and broke your heart. It let you forget that love between a 25 foot ape and a woman is kinda gross - and made you feel for the two. Pete Jackson can't really make a bad movie anymore (far cry from his early ventures into film) and this cements it.
Hon Mention:
Serenity - Joss Whedon's Sci-Fi movie that was what the Star Wards Prequels should have been. Awesome.
A History of Violence - David Cronenberg's haunting, chilling examinatio of the effects of violence and how we can't escape their consequences.
The Constant Gardner - Almost redeems Ralphe Finnes for The Avengers. Almost. And Rachel Weiss deserved the Oscar she got.
Crash - contrary to ignorant belief, this isn't a movie that makes a 'statement' about race - it's a powerful movie that makes a statement about humanity's fault of distancing itself from one another. Very, very good.

2004: Garden State. Zack Braff decided to try his hand at directing and writing (as well as acting) and just happened to make the best movie of the year (and best soundtrack too). Moppy-headed bastard. I hate people this talented. The story of a disassociated young man's return to his long-abandoned home town and his quest for a sense of normalcy in his life is profound and funny. Natalie Portman steals the show and again reminds us that she's not the wooden costume mannequin and action figure we came to know her as in Star Wars. What a fantastic movie.
Hon Mention:
Million Dollar Baby: Tragic and Poignant, Paul Haggis tries out the big screen with astounding results.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: One of the best love stories ever with a powerful statement about love and relationships at the end. A masterpiece.

2003: Love Actually. Call me a sap - but I love this movie. Intersecting vingettes about love around Christmas time in England not only has an amazing cast - but it's amazingly good. Richard Curtis is the kind of the romantic comedy and this solidifies him as such. Can you pick out a bad storyline in this? No. Can you pick out a favorite? No. All are so good and so true to life (with the witty exaggeration we expect from RomComs) that we can't say which is best - they all are.

2002: Adaptation. Odds are - you haven't seen this. Odds are - you need to. Nic Cage plays twin screenwriting brothers Charlie (who is a real person) and Donald (who isn't) Kauffman. Charlie has been hired to write an adaptation on The Orchid Thief - a book about a Florida orchid thief. Problem is - there is no story. Taken from real-life Charlie Kauffman's struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief, this movie straddles the line between reality and fiction so closely, you can't tell what is real and what is made up. Fantastic, original, genius movie.

2001: A Beautiful Mind. Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman biopic about John Nash, Nobel Prize (or was it Pulitzer) winning economist's struggle with mental illness, life, and ultimately love rings true and powerful throughout the movie. Russell Crowe and the gorgeous Jennifer Connelly are perfect together. Great movie. Interesting, shocking, tragic, and always moving.

2000: Traffic. Okay, so "Sadie" was 17 when "she" saw this and it blew her mind. Traffic revolves around the US's war on drugs. It's graphic, haunting, honest, and chilling. Traffic doesn't bother to try and be one-sided or flippant about the issue, but explores the triumphs and tragedies of government-run initiatives trying to stop a problems that affects individuals. Shot in very distinct styles depending on the location of the storyline, Steve Soderberg hit is peak here (and, sadly, has yet to return). After this was over, it was well over six hours before I could even begin to think about of form an opinion. I was just blown away.

1999: Unbreakable. Back before movies like Lady in the Water, M. Night Shyamalan was a cinematical genius. The Sixth Sense was a phenomenon, but Unbreakable was really where M. Night showed us that he was a master (who eventually got too stuck on himself and made the piece of shit Lady in the Water - are you sensing my hate for that movie? good. It sucks.) with Unbreakable. Bruce Willis, in his best performance ever, plays David Dunn, a man at odds with himself. Through a series of strange, violent, and scary situations, he's introduced to a possibile explanation for his purpose in life. Supported by Sam Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Robin Wright Penn all doing their best I've seen. If you're not moved by the end - you don't deserve to read this.

1998: Surprise - The Sixth Sense. Who doesn't remember the first time you saw this movie - especially the "How did I not see this coming, yet it blew my mind" ending that will forever be branded by The Sixth Sense (seen Fight Club or The Others - good, but you keep thinking "Too Sixth Sense-y"). What an incredibly good movie. Sure, it screwed Haley Joel Osment for life, but wow - he was incredbile. I still watch it and get chills with his performance. Best movie of the year.

1997: Can you guess? Look at the year? What were you seeing the end of that year (and subsequent viewings the beginning of '98)? If you guessed Titanic - you are right. Sure, you may laugh nervously now - trying to be cool - but admit it, you loved this movie when you first saw it. Sure, it may not be perfect, but this is the movie that opened my eyes to how powerful and incredible movies can be if done right. It hit on all cylinders, and, by the end, you were right there with the characters. You knew them, you felt them, and many (uh, not me, of course) cried with them. Ten years later - and it still stands as the highest grossing movie of all time (among many other records). It will take a very long time and a very amazing movie to beat that record. James Cameron - thank you for Titanic.

So, there we have it. Oh, and for Saide - go see Can't Hardly Wait (1998) - best Teen movie of that era. Totally under the radar, but extremely funny.

So, the next time you're at Blockbuster and you can't find anything to watch (which is the WORST feeling ever) - think: "What Would Sadie Watch?" and you'll be set for the evening.

Sadie loves movies!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Exploitation of Old People and Such...

So, Sadie decided to tune into Dick Clark's Rocking New Years Eve - a touchstone of year-end festivities (and year-beginning) for the past... um..., I dunno, 78 years (or something). Hell, a lot longer than I've been alive.

Well, anyways, after being wooed by a powerful montage of Carrie Underwood songs (and following the jabbing in the eye with a pen that quickly followed that performance), ABC cut to the animated corpse of Dick Clark.

And Sadie cried.

Now, who doesn't love Dick Clark? Guy's a machine! He's been doing this since long before TV had cable-order porn readily available - he's an American Icon (much like Tina Yothers). But, enough is enough. Please don't force him to work any more.

The only thing worse than children being forced to slave away 26 hours a day in a factory so that my sketchers are sewn together well is forcing elderly people to perform for us. Everytime I walk into a Wal-Mart and am greeted by their greeters, I feel awful. I just want to give the grandparent a hug and write them a check that will cover retirement. I don't feel nearly the twinge of guilt when I pick up a Kathy Lee Gifford sweater vest because, hey, kids are kids. They rebound quickly. They have little hands that are great for stitching and their bones are made of Jello - they heal fast. But older people deserve more - they deserve to rest.

And, by forcing them to work, it keeps them on the road and increases the chances of me dying in an elderly-related accident.

So, ABC, hear my plea:

I think it's great that Dick is recovering from a three year old stroke and you think that parading him around like a muppet (I swear I saw a hand up his shirt, moving his lips) is an inspiration to unproductive old people everywhere - just let him retire.

Sadie couldn't even rock after seeing him, she was so disturbed. And not even a plucky Ryan Seacrest could wipe away the pangs of guilt she felt for being party to such a shameful exploitation.

So, here's to next year - make Seacrest do it all, and, here's a suggestion: hire Lynn Spears to be a co-anchor. She'll have completely caused her children's suicides/imprisonment by then, so she'll have time on her hand (in between writing her next book: "How to pimp out your offspring and reap the benefits!" - an Oprah book club lister, for sure).

Sadie loves Dick Clark.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

And in come the Reviews

Hello Again (I'm making up for my utter lack of posting, by posting a whole bunch today) - today, we'd like to start a new segement (by popular demand): Movie Corner.

Movie corner will happen whenever I see a movie (we'll limit this to theatrical movies and the occasional really good DVD rental/purchase). I like to read myself type, so this is just one more excuse to post something that all four readers of the post will have to bear through.

Today, we'll be review two award buzz movies (that are both in moderate theatrical release currently). Now, I'll try my best not to spoil the movie, though readers be cautioned.

The first movie today will be Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (R). Run time just over two hours.
Sweeney Todd is Tim Burton's latest film (and let me admit that I'm a huge Burton fan (and like all true Burton fans, I just pretend that the awful Planet of the Apes remake did not bear his name)) starring Johnny Depp (their fourth collaboration). It is an adaptation of the 1979 Broadway musical by Steven Sondheim. Now, you may say: Broadway? How come I've never heard of that musical? Well, truth be told, there is probably a good reason. It's not that good. Now, this may be hearsay to many critics who are pooping their pants over this movie, but guess what, I think this is a "Uh... not quite sure what to make of it, but it's so different, we'll say it's great" vote. The musical follows Todd (Depp) as he returns from an undetermined amount of time in exile. Todd, years back, was ripped away from his daughter and wife and thrown in prison/exile (it's never clear) by an evil judge (the always great, Alan Rickman) who coveted Todd's wife. Todd, on return, meets Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) who operates a meat pie shop (I know, sounds gross already). They setup a barber shop with the intent for Todd to kill the two people responsible for his troubles. This, of course, spirals cause Todd and Lovett are both nuts. They decide to kill random people and cook them in Lovett's pies. I know, I know, bizarre. Tell me about it.

So, yes, the movie moves on. The problem is, what I've just described takes well over an hour to get to. The movie is pretty simple. Man returns to get revenge and that's all he wants. Could easily be done in an hour - or, had we a more interesting story (or presentation of the story) it could fill the over two hours of running time just fine. But it doesn't. And the movie just drags. And the music isn't that good. In a year where we were treated to Hairspray, with Mamma Mia on the way (summer 2008), the music in Sweeney Todd just sucks. It's one-note and boring. There's no variation. It doesn't get you into the movie - more so, it bored me. The actors do a decent job of singing it, but I can't remember a single tune. All I remember is that I wish the music was good. It's two hours of pretty much the same bland song, over and over.

Now, not to say the movie is awful (I dwell too much on the bad). The actors do a terrific job. All of them are A-Listers, and they show it. Depp's Todd is very creepy and mesmerizing (at first, before he devolves into just a weird, alienating psychotic). Bonham-Carter doesn't an awesome job in the movie, playing the part perfectly. At times it's very funny, at times it pulls you in - it just isn't able to sustain it. You find yourself pulling away from the characters (who act less and less human-like as the movie continues) so that by the end, you're just hoping they all die so you can go home.

Well, I wanted to love this movie, it had all the ingredients of a great movie, but, like Mrs. Lovett's non-cannibalistic pies, it just didn't come together. But, props to Burton who still makes the thing visually interesting and for being daring enough to try something very different. For most people, I'd grade it a C+. But, if you're into interesting/risky movies (especially Burton-esque), a B-.

Movie number two: Juno (PG-13). Just over an hour and a half.

Now, both of these movies have award buzz around them - but Juno truly deserves everything it gets and more.

Juno tells the story of Juno MacGuff (the amazing Ellen Page), a quirky 16 year-old who finds herself pregnant by her best friend Paulie Bleeker (the also amazing Michael Cera). Juno decides to find an adoptive set of parents who are unable to have kids and give them her baby. She knows she's unfit to raise the child, but that the child deserves great parents and all the love and stability it should have.

Juno finds Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman in the Pennysaver add. They're a typical almost yuppie-like couple. Now, I won't go any further and risk spoiling this great movie, but the movie follows the length of the pregnancy.

Juno is perfect! The performances are fantastic, understated, and real. The writing (written by first time screenwriter, ex-stripper, Diablo Cody (c'mon, how could this movie not be awesome by just that fact alone)) is so human it's astounding. Instead of falling into conventions and cliche, Juno dares to be realistic, but still sharp, witty, touching, and enthralling to watch.

Juno ultimately deals with the universal question of what it means to be loved. Though, like most good independent movies, the movie starts out slow, it ends with an incredibly powerful set of scenes. In Juno, characters take responsibility for their actions. They love each other and try to act accordingly (special credit goes to the characters of Juno's dad and stepmom (played with amazing skill by J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney) who never venture into caricature or moron, but walk the line of loving, caring, concerned parents who are doing the best they can to make an unfortunate situation better).

Wow! I can't really say enough about Juno - and it's grown on me immensely since seeing it. Let me just put it simply: Go see Juno and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Grade A, all the way. One of the best movies of the year, and probably my favorite.

Tony loves Juno like Sadie loves Mommy.

Today, On a Very Special Episode of Zoey 101

So, by now, everyone has heard the wonderous news that Jamie Lyn Spears, younger, plucky, until recently chaste(r) sister of Britney Spears is, how shall I put this delicately, knocked up.

Yes, the daughter of the front runner for worse, white trash parent ever (this by far trumps the "Pig" comment from lovely Alec Baldwin to his 11 year-old daughter earlier last year) Lyn Spears (who is currently writing a book on raising her children in the spotlight and stardom - I believe the title is "Huff Paint and Eat 'Shrooms: the Lyn Spears Guide to F***ing up your Children's Lives").

Now, children, let's review the facts before we proceed:

1) Jamie Lyn is 16 years old.

2) The father is supposed Casey Aldridge, who is 18 years old.

3) In Louisiana - this isn't statutory rape (coincidentally, both R Kelly and Michael Jackson have bought recent residences in the state).

4) Casey LIVED IN THE HOUSE with Lyn and Jamie Lyn.

5) Lyn (now to be reffered to as "WTM" (white trash mom)) and Jamie Lyn ("W" (whore)) broke the news to the world through the stellar and reputable publication OK Magazine.

6) They also sold first rights to have pictures of the UNBORN baby for $1 million (you know you're screwed up when you're pimping out pics of a fetus).

7) Now, Casey Aldridge is disputing the claim that he is the father (and it is rumored that an older (see: Statutory Rape) man who works on Zoey 1o1 (as a producer, director, catering boy (depending on the day, I guess)) is the father - and that the Spears are paying Casey to take to fall in order to avoid criminal charges and more tarnish to the upstanding Spears Family name.

Okay, now that we have that all out of the way - let me clarify something before continuing. Teen Pregnancies happen. It's a fact. As long as you have teenagers having sex - some will get preggers. I'm not here to open a forum on that - nor do I think every teeneager who has sex is a whore/manwhore. I use those terms for W because her family facilitated (and by action, encouraged) this to happen by letting her have a live in boyfriend. Not the smartest decision ever made. I think this was worse than the family in Brooklyn who gave all their kids 9MM for Christmas gifts. Eicarumba.

Anyways, so, W is the star of Nick's Zoey 101. And now they're faced with a preggers star (poor Nick, it's all been downhill since Clarissa Explains It All). So, in order to try and salvage the respectibilty of their network, they've toyed with the idea of having a Teen Pregnancy episode of Zoey 101. I've decided to help Nick out, and cast my two cents in for an episode idea. Here we go:

Open On:

Montage of a 16 year-old (from LA, who comes from an already proved brain-dead family) trying to figure out how to use a damn pregnancy test. She puts it in her mouth, under her armpit, in her cereal bown. Finally, she figures it out.

During school she makes a list of all the people who could be the possible father (including the director, producer, and caterer). By process of elimination, throughout the day, she narrows the list (she comes to find that she couldn't have gotten pregnant by most of the boys on the list because the various, er, >ahem<, acts couldn't biologically have led to pregnancy. She feels embarrassed at her lack of knowledge, but then again, she's too young to have taken sex ed yet, so how would she know?).

We follow her, documentary style, as she leaves the boundaries of Zoey's world and walks off the set. She finds the caterer, the director, and the producer, who all deny being the father. In a fit of desolation, she breaks down sobbing. The nearby hairdresser comes over to console her. In a moment of clarity, Zoey realizes that the female hairdresser must be the father - they shared a night of fermented Hawaiian Punch induced passion. The hairdresser uncomfortably laughs and tries to explain that that too couldn't work.

Zoey goes home, downtrodden, and announces to her parents that she's got a bun in the oven. The dad reacts by beating her senseless, and the mom is overjoyed (citing that she's been praying for Grandbabies for too long - and since Zoey's older sister went batshit crazy and took the other grandbabies away, Zoey has been their only hope).

(see, this is where the writers decided to go "Law and Order" style with a "Ripped from the Headlines" tagline - seamlessly writing in W's personal life into Zoey's story.)

The episode ends with a huge musical montage number (all sung to the tune of Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry") in the hospital room where Zoey remarks "Being a mommy is the best thing ever" - immediately after DCFS comes in and takes the child away because, oops! no one told Zoey that you can't keep snorting lines of coke off high school toilet seats while pregnant. Every shrugs their shoulders and laughs with "That's So Zoey!!!!"


I'm e-mailing it to Nick execs today (with an invoice for $80,000). I'll let you know how it goes.

...and, lest we forget, Sadie still loves Mommy...