August 13th, 2006
Wedding CrashersJohn Beckwith: Hey, listen. What angle are you going to play here?
Jeremy Grey: I am going to go with the balloon animal display. For the kids. And then when she comes near, guess who is the broken man, haunted past? How about you?
John Beckwith: I am going to go dance with the little flower girl. Oh, and I might be a charter member of Oprah's book club.
Jeremy Grey: It's all deadly.

Dragnet

August 11th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0092925/

DragnetDan Ackroyd is Sgt. Joe Friday of the LAPD. His partner has retired and is replaced by Pep Streebeck (Tom Hanks). Together they lead the investigation of a series of crimes committed by a criminal organization that leaves a calling card bearing the acronym P.A.G.A.N. at each scene. Friday is a man who plays by the book, and he has memorized each line in it. Streebeck is the Yin to Friday's Yang. The personalities clash and the result is comedy.

In the movie, Joe Friday is actually the nephew of the Joe Friday popularized and memorialized in the original TV show by the same name.

Dan Ackroyd plays the part well, though was not overly impressive. I really began to think about the fact that some of his earlier work was so impressive (e.g. Ghostbusters, Blues Brothers) that parts like this were really beneath is potential.

Tom Hanks gave me somewhat of the same impression. This was the young, loveable Tom Hanks. He was the care-free bachelor with the wild side. He was the guy who, unfortunately, no parts are written for today (though that is not terrible from the perspective that there is probably no one who could ever replicate the young Tom Hanks). He had the sharp wit and quick comebacks that were timed perfectly with Ackroyd as Joe Friday, but Friday was the main character. Ackroyd was the lead and Hanks had to play support.

The first half of the movie was fun. Not necessarily funny, but fun. It was the fun 80s movie that made me nostalgic for the movies I loved growing up and have a permanent place in my DVD collection. Those movies are silly comedies that are not really all that funny in today's society, but the jokes are a familiar and comfortable reminder. If the movies have a link to your past, they are great. If you try to apply 1987 jokes to a fresh 2006 audience, the results will not be favorable. And the results of my watching Dragnet were not favorable for what I believe to be that reason. For my time, I would rather watch those movies I hold dear than be reminded of them by a sub-par Dan Ackroyd performance in a movie that keeps a young Tom Hanks tied up in the yard.

I watched Dragnet on a recommendation that came up during discussion around the Top 5 Tom Hanks movies. Dragnet does not make my top 5.

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Top 5 Movies: Best Documentaries

August 9th, 2006

August 7th, 2006
Zoolander

Derek Zoolander: You think that you're too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you... Walter Cronkite.

You aren't.

Rob Schneider takes a stand...or tries to get a job.

August 4th, 2006

If somehow you have managed to stay under your rock for the past few days and have neither read nor heard the hubbub about Mel Gibson, let me fill you in. Late last week Mr. Gibson was arrested for Driving Under the Influence. The story starts out as our prying into the private affairs of a celebrity, but gets a little meatier when the arresting officer speaks. The hand-written statement (.pdf) from the officer details abusive and anti-semitic language from Mr. Gibson.

The backlash has been ugly and VERY public. Apparently when you tell your arresting officer that Jews are "responsible for all the wars in the world" you cause a scene. I know I am the last person on the internet to write about the incident, and all of the details are known. I will stop there and move on to Rob Schneider's reaction.

Schneider Slams Gibson
Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo star Rob Schneider is the first actor to publicly announce he will never work with Mel Gibson due to the anti-Semitic remarks he made when he was arrested last Friday. Schneider took out an ad in Hollywood trade paper Variety slamming the star for his behavior in "An Open Letter to the Hollywood Community." The ad appeared yesterday and said, "I, Rob Schneider, a 1/2 Jew, pledge from this day forth to never work with Mel Gibson-actor-director-producer-and anti-Semite." Schneider then went on to say even if he were offered the lead role in Passion Of The Christ 2 or a "juicy voice-over role in his new flick Apocalypto and spoke ancient Mayan" he would still turn them down. He also repeatedly praised Hollywood talent manager Bernie Brillstein for publicly saying he would refuse to work with Gibson because "I just don't like bigots." The actor continued by saying he had recently directed a film called Big Stan in which there was a part for a Nazi gang leader "which apparently Mel would be perfect for." Schneider said he would still not cast Gibson in that role and ended the letter by saying, "Of course that would only be after I talked with my financial backers. Some of whom share Mr. Gibson's hankering for a good bottle of tequila. Because, after all...I don't get to call all the shots." -IMDb

So the way I have it figured, comedic actor Rob Schneider wanted to remind us all that he is alive and available for bit parts in any Happy Madison films that may be coming out in the near future. He could not have been serious about his verbal flogging of Mr. Gibson because no one knows better than he does that he does not now, nor has he ever had a snow ball's chance in hell at gracing the silver screen along side Mel Gibson. So I applaud Mr. Schneider's successful attempt to get his name in the news.

Hey, when are they going to do a new season of "Men Behaving Badly?" I loved that show. And yes... I do own a copy of Deuce Bigalow.

Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School

August 3rd, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0409034/

Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm SchoolRobert Carlyle (The Full Monty) heads up an all-star cast as Frank Keane, a grieving widower who's convinced he'll never know happiness again. But everything changes when he stops to help Steve Mills (John Goodman, The Big Lebowski), a stranger who's been injured in a serious car wreck. Determined to fulfill the dying man's last wish, Frank races to a dance school hoping to keep a date with Steve's long lost love -- only to find romance waiting to sweep him off his feet in this humorous, warm-hearted drama that's a must-have for any independent film collection.

Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny DeVito and John Goodman. What a great cast... and hey look, Donnie Wahlberg is in it, too. Ok, that is unfair; he did a great job. They all did a great job.

With a cast like that, especially in an independent film I typically assume that the big names will be cameos. Someone manages to get John Goodman to make an appearance in your movie because Goodman owes a favor to one of the guys your uncle plays poker with or something ridiculous like that. So he comes in as the mayor of the town or some tiny bit part like that shakes some hands and is never seen nor heard from again. That is not the case in Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School.

I know the name alone is enough to turn you away from the film. I mean, Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School, what a stupid title. What on Earth could that be about other than some charm school for little girls? I urge you to look beyond the title and investigate further.

You will find a touching story about love and life after death (not life after one's own death, but how one must go on after someone else's death). You may smile and chuckle a little, but this is not a comedy. If it has been a while since you last saw a good drama, or even if it was last night, give Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School a try.

I am a big fan of Robert Carlyle. Everyone knows him from The Full Monty, but I have enjoyed his work in other roles as well. Some of my favorite Robert Carlyle performances are The Beach, Plunkett & Macleane, and The 51st State (A/K/A Formula 51). Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School joins them in that list. He plays a first generation immigrant who brings his family's bread business to the US. His wife has passed away and now he struggles each day without her. He is a man who wants to be left alone with his own problems when he is first to arrive after a terrible accident. You can feel how awkward it is for him to find himself in the situation to follow.

John Goodman, who I expected to have one scene in the film, really impressed me. He is in the movie start to finish and stretches artistic muscles I never knew he had. He has been solid in everything I have seen him do up to this point, but I have never seen him do anything like this. He really did a great job.

The story may be a little far-fetched for some. And one or two of you may call it "hokey," but I liked it a lot. It hasn't taken over the role of my favorite movie, and despite what the synopsis says on the back of the DVD, I probably will not add it to my collection. Please do not let that deter you from giving it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School; I think you'll be entertained if nothing else. Look beyond the title. Check it out.

(One word of encouragement: If you are like me, you read the synopsis and are worried that Frank Keane will find romance in the arms of the woman he was sent to meet on behalf of the dying man, Steve Mills. Take solice in the fact that it is a different woman. And don't worry, I did not just give away the ending.)

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Top 5 Movies: Starring Val Kilmer

July 27th, 2006

July 26th, 2006
Taxi DriverTravis Bickle: The days go on and on...they don't end. All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don't believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention, I believe that one should become a person like other people.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

July 25th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0373469/

Kiss Kiss Bang BangThey say love and money don't mix, but you can't blame Harry Lockhart for trying. He's been whisked from a life of petty crime to Hollywood, where he'll audition for the role of a movie detective and be tutored for the part by a private eye. Now all Harry has to do is convince the dream girl he meets that he's an actual detective. And try not to stumble over the corpses as reel life abruptly gives way to the real.

Lights, camera, plenty of action! Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) provides the screenplay and makes his directing debut in a clever fusion of buddy movie and hardboiled noir produced by Joel Silver. Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan play the thrust-together trio -- a naive schemer, a tough-as-nails gay detective, and a hopeful actress clinging to her dream. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Watch Watch.

A semi-ridiculous plot born out of the old pulp detective stories. Semi-ridiculous but wildly entertaining. The cast, the writing, and the direction were more than enough to turn unrealistic into fun on screen.

Robert Downey, Jr. impresses me time after time. Any chemical dependencies in his past aside, I think he has a lot of talent. He turns in a very enjoyable performance as Harry Lockhart. I would be hard pressed to decide if I like his work here better than in Wonder Boys, which, partially due to his influence, is a movie I love.

Michelle Monaghan is a relatively unknown name, though she makes heads turn. She was certainly a knockout in this movie, but she may be a bit too much like Liv Tyler for me, in looks, innocence, and mannerisms.

The show was absolutely stolen by Val Kilmer. When you watch the movie you wonder if he can sustain the exalted level of sarcastic wit and incredible timing. Some credit is due to Robert Downey, Jr. for his part in how well they worked together, but Val was great. This just might be his best performance, if I may be so bold.

There will be a time or two where you wonder if the suspense is overdone, but by the end of the movie you will probably be too entertained to remember. The writing was probably the best part; from Robert Downey, Jr.'s monologues as narrator to his constant banter with Val Kilmer, I was impressed. It was a unique film and I appreciate seeing something that is a break from the norm, especially when it is as funny and fun to watch as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

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Say it ain't so. Heath Ledger as The Joker?

July 24th, 2006

[W]e just got word from A VERY TRUSTED SOURCE that the offer last night was officially made to Heath Ledger to star as The Joker in the Batman Begins Sequel!
- Superherohype quoting Latino Review.

As I just mentioned how much I prefer DC villains, and named The Joker specifically, and wrote such a glowing review of Batman Begins, they are throwing this news in my face. I have stated before, in other write-ups, that Mr. Ledger is horrible. You know how there are actors specifically because of whom you will see a movie? I will actually go see a movie just because Heath Ledger is NOT in it.

The casting choice does make some sense in keeping in line with Cillian Murphy's role as Dr. Crane in Batman Begins. Use a younger actor with a creepy look in his eye rather than an established bad-guy personality. Much debate has gone on in and around the rumor mills about who would next plague Gotham City. I am still extremely excited for the next Batman movie (which comes out in 2008) and I will plan to keep an open mind for Mr. Ledger. Maybe it is seeing him as my favorite bad guy that will change my opinion of him. Maybe after Batman Begins 2 I will sing Heath Ledger's praises.

But probably not.

UPDATE: Cinematical reports Ledger has signed. Also, the movie has a name!!! The Dark Knight.