Sunday, June 28, 2009

Year One

Between polite chuckles while watching Year One, I couldn't help but recall how brilliant movies by Mel Brooks and Monty Python were. Although I sound like my Dad complaining about how art from his generation was better, check out History Of The World, Part I and see how this Jack Black comedy should have been handled.

After watching the flick, (and with apologies to Brooks) the "Lord Jehovah has given unto me these fifteen..."[third tablet drops, and breaks] "Oy...Ten! Ten Commandments! For all to obey!”

10. If thou doest view Year One whilst sitting among others in a theater, thou art prohibited from yelling: "Hey, it's McLovin,'" as one child in the third row did each time Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Issac was in a scene.

9. Thou shalt appreciate David Cross for his incredible talent: but for his great turn as Cain, Year One would be an even greater disappointment.

8. Thou shalt have no other comedic gods before Jack Black...unless Mr. Black is simply phoning in the work and collecting a paycheck. Then, thou shalt enjoyeth the comedy stylings of Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler without feeling guilty.

7. Honor the memory of Michael Cera's work in Juno, Superbad and Arrested Development so that thy days of belly laughs and hearty chuckles will be long. The honor he deserves for Year One? Not so much.

6. Thou shalt not bear false witness about producer Judd Apatow. Thus, when thou is asked: "How did you like Year One?" thou shalt respond with: "Apatow's getting full of himself, and he's throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks."

5. Thou shalt not covet high quality comedies while watching Year One.

4. Thou shalt feel free to covet Juno Temple, who co-starred as Eema.

3. Thou shalt not murder...unless a man who looks strikingly similar to Oliver Platt's High Priest character asks for one more hot oil rub.

2. Thou shalt not commit adultery. (The lone exception to this commandment, to which the Lord Jehovah concedeth, is if thou is seduced by June Raphael's Maya, whilst she wears her cave woman outfit.)

1. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Catch this flick as a Sunday matinee, kiss the "holy" part of your holy day goodbye.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

The opening scene of Last Chance Harvey, written and directed by Joel Hopkins, provides clear insight into the personal characteristics of Harvey Shine, the lead played by Dustin Hoffman. In the opening, Shine attempts to play a song at his piano, but doesn't have the skill or the patience to finish it.

So he simply switches to a different tune; one that's more upbeat, and easier to play.

Harvey's most often taken the easy way out of the complications of life. And he's now paying the price: he is estranged from his daughter, his career is failing and he is terribly lonely.

After traveling to London to attend the wedding of his daughter, Shine begins an accidental romance with another lonely soul. Kate Walker, played by Emma Thompson, seems slightly out of step with others, and connects with Shine through her refreshingly honest perspective on life.

Last Chance Harvey is billed as a romantic movie, and I suppose that's accurate. I found it an interesting character study, however, about the awakening an elderly man who had long ago given up on a life he didn't think he could achieve. Hoffman and Thompson have great chemistry, and the dialogue is wonderful.

In summer blockbuster season, where things are exploding, time is being altered and robots are transforming on screens everywhere, it was enjoyable to lean back in the easy chair and enjoy a well written, well acted flick.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Haunting In Connecticut

Allegedly true.
Also contains alleged
acting and suspense.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Love You, Man

Many of the folks living on Salem's Branch in the late 1970s, when I was a kid living there, shared a party telephone line. When I ask my kids to put down their cell phones and text devices long enough to tell them stories about the olden days, they scoff when I mention a "party line." But it's true; and using the party line to talk to friends, and the girls I hoped would become more than friends, was tough.

Me: "Well, how about we meet at Groves Theater on Saturday? I hear they are holding Rocky over for another week!"

Potential Girlfriend: "Sure, even though I saw it last week, I'd..."

[Interrupted by Mrs. Nichols, who lived up the street. She picks up the phone, and clicks the hang-up buttons a couple of times]

Mrs. Nichols: "Kenny? Is that you, Kenny?"

Me: "This isn't Kennie, Mrs. Nichols. It's Marc, from down the road. I'll be finished with the phone in a minute."

Mrs. Nichols: "Do you know Kenny?"

Me: "Yes, ma'am..."

Mrs. Nichols: "Have you seen Kenny?"

Potential Girlfriend: "Uh...I'm gonna go now."

It happened way too often.

For lots of reasons--like the telephone party line, and the fact that there were no kids my age living within a mile of me--I spent a lot of time alone.

Eating cereal, riding ponies, horses and motorcycles, hoeing gardens and feeding chickens. But rarely hanging out with other boys.

In fact, I can recall only once that another kid slept over at my house.


As a result, I grew up a bit of a social misfit. Unsure of myself in social situations, and unclear how to behave. Especially around other men.

The stereotypical, testosterone-filled stuff came naturally. I could play sports with other guys, talk about girls with other guys and even fight guys once in a while. But put me in a room with a dude and expect me to carry on some small talk?

I just couldn't do it. Still can't very well, even today.

Like Peter Klaven, the lead in I Love You, Man, I was mostly a girlfriend guy, more comfortable with women than men. Unlike Klaven, I didn't go on a series of man-dates in order to improve my skills. In fact, I did the opposite: I mostly avoided other guys who wanted to hang out, at least until they stopped wanting to hang out.

I wish there had been a Sydney Fife in my life at that time to hang with, jam with and exchange nicknames with. As it was, my only nickname came from Kenny.

And "Shit-Licker" ain't that cool a nickname...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Losing Focus

Just why were Brian May and Freddie Mercury so obsessed with fat bottomed girls and bicycles anyway, BuzzardBilly?

I've been pondering that question most of the day, since I listened to Queen's Greatest Hits on the way to work this morning. I used to wonder what "got a mousche" meant. For years. Then I discovered the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody are "scaramouche, scaramouche...," and refer most likely to a dramatic character in a play, named after some novel or something-or-other from the early 20th century.

Who cares? I can't get the damn thing outta my head!

Things get stuck there sometimes, and it takes some purging to become somewhat functional again. Here's the vent:

I may be delusional, but there seems to be a Baldwin brother on every reality series on TV.

Finally! Others are starting to see through Oprah's shallow facade. Wonder if I can get tickets to her show soon? When public opinion starts to tank, O starts giving away cars!

There is some speculation that Morbius, The Living Vampire will be the villain in the upcoming Spider-Man 4 flick, directed by Sam Raimi. If Morbius is the villain I predict it'll be the best Spidey flick ever, with the evil dead and his army of darkness carrying out their simple plan to drag Peter Parker to hell.
(Whew...that was a stretch.)

No matter how many times I saw it, I always laughed at the opening of Married With Children, when Peg Bundy dropped her cigarette butt into the salad she was making.

Despite feeling as though I was again sitting in Mrs. Dietz's Biology class at Summersville Junior High School--where I ruled the back row, by the way-- I loved the recent series on the classification of West Virginia hot dogs. Do yourself a solid and read it at the West Virginia Hot Dog Blog. Stanton, Chris James and Big Daddy are always informative and entertaining, but this series was exceptional. I could smell the chili from the picture those guys used to illustrate the Utilitarian Dog.

Did I mention Oprah has some detractors?

Man, I gotta see a movie soon...