Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sukiyaki Western Django

A lone cowboy rides into town with information on where gold may be found. As he stands in the center of town the two rival gangs (the Reds and the Whites) shout their offers and flex their muscle. The two gangs have taken over the town (with one taking in the sniveling sheriff) and have run almost everyone else out leaving just themselves. The lone cowboy goes with an old woman who has ties to both gangs and learns the tales of both groups. As the story unfolds, sides are chosen and secrets are revealed. Oh, and you migth also want to know that they are Asian. This town in the wild west of the U.S. is an interesting mix of cowboys and ninjas from the weapons they use to the clothes they wear. I'll do my best to explain it a little more in the ratings below, but for a better understanding I would definitely recommend checking out the trailer below.

Original Release: 2007
Running Time: 121 minutes

Death - $1
This is a quantity vs. quality issue for Django. Considering the fact that there are revolvers AND katanas, I just don't think they killed enough. But there is some great movie death moments including a sword getting implanted in the top of someone's skull and a big whole being blown out of someone's torso followed by an arrow being shot THROUGH said whole into another guy. You just can't find this kind of stuff on Lifetime.

Repeat Play - $1
This is a great movie for ironing. If your head isn't pointed at the screen the whole time it doesn't take away too much since the whole thing doesn't really make much sense. That actually sounds a little mean. Whether you pay close attention or not, Django is a very interesting watch with the blended style of samurai and cowboy styles. If you are looking for a movie that isn't your everyday ro-comm or over produced action flick then this is a fun little break from the norm.

Shock Value - $1
There are some interesting twists but the entirety of the movie could be considered shocking since you don't trily know what to expect (or at least I didn't, but I don't get out all that much). If you are able to predict every twist of this movie then you must be some sort of psychic and should be able to find a much better use for your talents. Maybe you could go on a game show or be like that Mel Gibson movie "What Women Want". I'm just saying, you really should be using it for more than just taking the pleasure out of watching movies. Moving on...

Action and Ass-Kickery - $1
I might be judging harshly here but I don't feel like there was enough intensity here to get a full rating. While there is a good amount of action, there are some definite lulls in between. To quote myself... Need more 'splosions.

Billicious - $1
It didn't completely knock my socks off, but I am glad I bought Sukiyaka Western Django. The concept is interesting, the presentation is amazing, and it's just a good little time. I don't know how many of my friends or how many of you (we're more acquantances than friends... you didn't even invite me to that BBQ) would really appreciate this one, but I still think you should give it a try.

Total Rating: $5

If you ever asked yourself what the love child of Bruce Lee and John Wayne would be like... here's your answer. I don't really know what more to say than that. My words cannot possibly do the film justice so I suggest you watch the trailer below and if you like it then give the full movie a try. I don't think you will be disappointed in either case even though this was not a very high-scoring review. And as always, feedback is welcome!

Run Fatboy Run

Dennis (played by Simon Pegg) is an out of shape security guard at a women's clothing store living in a crappy basement apartment. He's been running away his entire life, with the most extreme case being when he left Libby pregnant at the alter. Several years later he is in his son's life but Libby is dating a new, and much more successful, man. Wit works in the financial sector, runs regularly and is pretty much as a$$hole. Dennis can't stand to be completely losing Libby so he decides to run the same upcoming marathon as Wit and prove that he can finish something he sets his mind to. With the help of his best friend and upstairs neighbor, he enters and trains as things keep getting worse for him... even worse than the fact that he had to stop drinking, stop smoking, and learn how to run 26 miles in less than a month. (Hey folks... it's a movie.) Enough from me though... let's run on down to the ratings.

Original Release: 2007
Running Time: 100 minutes
Hardee-Har-Har - $2
Simon Pegg is always good for a laugh, and he delivers here. A strong supporting cast - including Hank Azaria - had me laughing out loud several times with quips and one-liners.

Acting - $1
I expected acting on the level of a simple comedy but there is a lot more heart in Run Fatboy Run than I could have predicted. Each actor portrayed their respective characters splendidly and helped to draw me into the story and get more emotionally involved then I planned on being on a Sunday afternoon.

Repeat Play - $1
I can safely say that I will be watching this again within the next few weeks. I won't force my roommate to sit down and watch it as soon as he gets home (which I have done in the past) but I might make he and his girlfriend sit through it next weekend. Consider that a warning you two.

Romantics - $2
I put a lot of thought into this one. The movie begins with Dennis running away from his own shotgun wedding and that is probably one of the least romantic things someone can do. But what he puts himself through to win her back and how much Libby struggles with her old love and her new one felt very powerful. It felt much less forced than movies generally do, so I will happily hand over a couple bucks here.

Billicious - $2
Run Fatboy Run is one of those movies that I had some interest in seeing but never really made the effort until I saw it on sale for six bucks at Best Buy. I like Simon Pegg but wasn't initially inspired by the trailers so I let it be until this weekend. Man I wish I had watched this one sooner! It is an underappreciated and fun movie and I hope to hell that this review will convince at least one person to go and watch it.
Total Rating: $8

Part of why I use the $10 rating scale is that I don't like spending more than that on a movie. I frequent the weekly sales at Best Buy and pick up a lot for $5 - $9. Any time I can have a rating here higher than what I paid for the movie I am a very happy boy. Run Fatboy Run is a perfect example of that and for why I don't bother renting movies. It's throwing money away. I don't know how many people out there have seen this one, so if you have then feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. I'm finally back in the swing of reviewing after a few months off, so check back soon and you're sure to find more here. Until then, always remember that metal doesn't go in the microwave!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quantum of Solace

The second chapter of the latest take on Bond, Quantum of Solace picks up where Casino Royale left off. Bond is still a relatively young agent and his normal recklessness and violent tactics are amplified by the Vespa's death. Bond discovers a connection between the mysterious organization giving MI-6 trouble and an "environmentalist" making deals with some less-than-reputable countries. As Bond gets closer to discovering the true plan of the Quantum organization, more international secret agencies get brought into the mix and it gets harder and harder for him to tell who is a friend and who is a foe. Beyond that, it's a Bond movie so I'm sure you have an idea of what goes down. So lets move on to the review.

Original Release: 2008
Running Time: 106 minutes
Death - $2
The Daniel Craig version of Bond began the last movie without his 00 status, but changed that quickly and keeps the body count rising here in Quantum of Solace. Despite M's constant requests to have someone left alive for questioning, Bond keeps killing his way to the answers he seeks.

Repeat Play - $1
I watched Casino Royale a lot when I first saw it. I will probably watch Q of S again sometime soon (with my roommate or other friends that haven't seen it yet) but for my own personal viewing pleasure I think I'd watch the first one again instead.

Hello Ladies - $1
Bond movies are known for Bond girls, some of the hottest women in cinematic history. Olga Kurylenko, previously seen in Hitman and Max Payne, takes the lead Bond girl role here as Camille and she... looks... good. I set the bar just a little bit higher for Bond to compensate for his aversion on monogomy and I think that's wher they dropped the ball. Strawberry Fields has the classic Bond girl name, but didn't really wow me and felt like a weak rip-off of the young lady from Goldfinger (let me know if you don't get the reference). Anyway, I just don't think they earned the full rating here so I'll leave it at a dollar.

Action and Ass-Kickery - $2
I was very pleased with the opening car chase and several of the other fights and action scenes. This is Bond people so I shouldn't have to tell you there's action.

Billicious - $0
I feel that I should directly quote the rating system for this category... "I expected more and was let down." It's that simple... The movie was entertaining, yes, but it wasn't completely what I was hoping for. Sorry gang.
Total Rating: $6

I heard a lot of mixed reviews about Quantum of Solace and I think they were all right. There were a lot of great things about it, but it just didn't live up to Casino Royale. I don't think it is fair to compare the different takes on Bond (you're welcome Pierce) but I have no qualms with comparing two films from the same Bond series. My hope is that they will see what was missing here and make up for it in the next installment that I'm assuming they will make. Until next time, I'm Ten Dollah and you're not.

Children of Men

It's the year 2027 and the world has gone to shit. A wave of inexplicable infertility has swept the globe and there hasn't been a new birth in over 18 years. Faced with pending extinction, societies have collapsed while Britain seems to have somehow maintained some level of "civility". Fearful of disease and terrorists from less fortunate (and the bar's been set low in this take on the future) countries, the borders have been sealed off and illegal aliens are hunted and deported by the military. Theo, played by Clive Owen, is a London resident living every day depressed and drunk until his ex-wife and former partner activist comes back into his life. She is now a major player in the underground and asks Theo to help her transport a member of the movement out of the country. Little does he know just how important this person is to the movement (or why) and just how far some people will go to make sure that destination is not reached. Let's move on to the review, shall we?

Original Release: 2006
Running Time: 109 minutes
Acting - $2
Clive Owen... Julianne Moore... Michael Caine... and the underrated Chiwetel Ejiofor all carry their characters from beginning to end here. A slew of unknowns provide immaculate supporting performances that help keep the gritty borderline-documentary feel of the movie.

Effects & Animation - $1
I'll be the first to admit that I didn't anticipate using this category for Children of Men. While it's set in the future, it isn't a very "futuristic" film - no Delorians. What made me decide to actually use it though is their use of single cut scenes. There are several in the movie (including the longest ever I believe) where it is all filmed in one long ongoing scene. It's truly impressive to consider how difficult that must have been to coordinate and complete.

Repeat Play - $1
I'm torn here. I've tried to watch Children of Men probably six times now, but today was the FIRST time I saw it all the way from beginning to end. Nothing against the movie, but I kept either watching it while I was cleaning the house or taking a nap so I never made it past a certain scene. Now that I've finally finished it, I'm glad I did but I don't think it will be too soon that I watch it again. I'm comfortable with the dollar here.

Shock Value - $1
As much as I pride myself on not spoiling anything, I will share one here mostly because I'm assuming everyone knows it. The lady Theo is asked to help transport is pregnant... the first person to be pregnant in almost 20 years. THAT isn't the biggest shock in the story though. There were a few parts that definitely caught me off guard enough to give them a dollar here. The ending is included here since I was surprised by what I finally saw.

Action and Ass-Kickery - $1
This isn't a fight-scene movie at all. But in this take on the future the world has been ravaged by war. Soldiers and militias are everywhere you look and shooting people is a common enough practice that I will grant them .75 Euros (at the current exchange rate).
Total Rating: $6

Children of Men is a pretty unique and interesting movie, and definitely one that I would recommend. If you're a Clive Owen fan (and honestly, who isn't?) then you'll enjoy it. If you like strong acting or then you'll enjoy it. If you like interesting takes on the possibly-soon downfall of humanity, you'll enjoy and we should never hang out. Oh, and did I mention Clive Owen yet? Honestly, this isn't one that I would recommend everyone go out and buy... but if you have a chance to see it (perhaps a friend has it on DVD or its on OnDemand) then definitely give it a go. It isn't the quickest moving movie (redundant?) ever but it's still a decent time. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri (played by Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) are two childhood friends living together in a less-than-pleasant apartment outside of Pittsburgh. They both have low level jobs and struggle to pay the bills, so when their power and water are turned off they don't know where to turn. Losing their utilities the day of their high school reunion proved fortuitous though after having a chance meeting with a gay porn star that just happens to be "dating" the old quarterback and childhood tormentor of Miri. This run-in helped them come to the realization that the best chance for them to get out of their financial turmoil was to cross a line most would never dare... make a porno and sell it to their old high school classmates. So, the recruit a friend with some extra cash to fund cameras and costumes and hold auditions for other "actors" to fill out the cast of Star Whores (it's what you think it is). Nobody said that this would be an easy endeavor though, and consumating a 20-year friendship is bound to have interesting results. So let's see how well they fared...

Original Release: 2008
Running Time: 101 minutes
Hardee-Har-Har - $1
It's a funny movie, as you would expect, but I have to admit that it wasn't as funny as I expected it to be. Don't take that as a sign that you shouldn't see it because if you like Seth Rogan or Kevin Smith then I definitely think you should... it just wasn't quite as funny as I was hoping based on the involvement of those two guys.

Acting - $1
Anybody that goes into this expecting Oscar-level acting should get up from the computer right now, get a tall glass of water and use it to take their crazy pills. But, considering the supporting cast's resumes I have to admit that it wasn't that crappy. So I will be generous here and give it a dollar.

Repeat Play - $0
This might be a little harsh, but I don't know how regularly I am going to watch this one. I've watched it twice since getting it but the main reason for the second viewing was that there was too much time between the original and this attempt at reviewing it. So, I had to put it on again to make sure I remembered everything. Unless someone I'm hanging out with wants to watch it, it will probably be a long time before it makes it into my player again. Sorry Kevin and Seth... better luck next time.

Hello Ladies - $1
Maybe its because I'm a "girl next door" kind of guy, but I can't give this one two bucks. Porn celebrities Traci Lords and Katie Morgan both have supporting roles, but at this point seeing Katie Morgan naked is on par with seeing Grimace on a Happy Meal box - sure it was cool at first, but by now nobody even notices. Elizabeth Banks is a lovely specimen, but its just not enough to get more than a dollar here.

Romantics - $1
Despite the strong sexual context of the title and plot, there is a love story underneath it all. Two life-long friends that have never been able to see each other as more suddenly realize how much they care about each other beyond the platonic sense. Being a card carrying member of the Friend Zone Hall of Fame myself, I couldn't help but relate... but I think we all know how unrealistic this is - beyond the whole "making a porn" thing too.
Total Rating: $4 (ouch)

Despite the low rating, Zack and Miri Make a Porno isn't really all that bad. Let me make a few suggestions though... don't watch this on a date, unless that date is with someone you've been seeing for a long time and you know for a fact that they won't find it weird or gross. I'm not telling you this from experience (thankfully) but more in a "man am I glad I didn't see this on a date" kind of way that I feel compelled to share. Don't say I didn't warn you. Oh, and there's also at least one penis shot here, just as a heads up. I forgot to warn people about that in the Forgetting Sarah Marshall review so I thought I would mention it here.

(Be warned that some parts of the trailer aren't really safe for work... depending on where you work, of course.)