Friday, September 18, 2015

Stuff I Watched 9/18/15

Here's more stuff I watched:

Behind the Candelabra:  Despite what the title kind of implies, this wasn't really a "biopic" of Liberace.  It focuses mostly on his relationship with Scott Thorbin (Matt Damon) from 1977 to the end of his life.  Basically Scott is picked up at a bar by Scott Bakula, who takes him to a Liberace show and backstage he gets picked up by Liberace (Michael Douglas) and soon moves in with him.  Over the next few years they become sort of like an old married couple, though apparently Scott never let Liberace do much to him sexually, for which Liberace compensated with a number of other people.  The strength of the movie is the relationship between Liberace and Scott and how it changes over the years as Scott loses his innocence and becomes jaded.  This was an HBO movie but with the stars involved, it could easily have been a theatrical release. (4/5)

The Fog of War:  This "documentary" is mostly an interview with Robert Macnamara, the secretary of defense for JFK and LBJ who oversaw the US's entry into Vietnam.  I was disappointed the filmmaker Erroll Morris didn't really confront Macnamara, who blamed LBJ rather than take any responsibility.  He basically hid behind the idea he was just doing his job.  He pretty much said the same thing about working for the bombing wing that firebombed much of Japan in WWII.  But he did admit that mistakes were made.  In the case of Vietnam it was largely we didn't understand that to the Vietnamese this was a civil war, not part of some greater global pissing match between the USA-USSR-China, which is how Macnamara and others saw it at the time.  There was a certain amount of irony in that this was recorded shortly before George W pushed for war in Iraq; his administration really could have used the reminder about not repeating mistakes. (2/5)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014):  With Michael Bay involved and Megan Fox starring, I was planning to hate this, but I didn't, which is kind of a backhanded compliment.  The turtles look kind of weird and Splinter the rat looks really gross, but otherwise it's a lot better than the last 3 Transformers movies.  The plot is fairly cliche, with a weapons designer trying to create a crisis to then solve said crisis, but it's not like you can expect a whole lot. (3/5)

Not Safe for Work:  Did you ever wonder what Die Hard would be like if he were a paralegal being chased by an assassin?  That's pretty much what this is.  A paralegal asks one too many questions and gets fired but goes back into the building after close only to find out some bad stuff is afoot.  It's OK but the assassin was kind of an idiot.  I mean he's wearing a $3000 suit and telling someone he's from building maintenance.  Um, yeah, that's believable.  Something must have gone wrong in the production of this movie.  It's from Universal not a tiny studio and it's directed by Joe Johnston, who has directed stuff like Captain America: The First Avenger and yet I don't remember this getting a theatrical release and it's only 74 minutes.  They didn't even try to pad the credits to stretch the run time.  Anyway, obviously then they could have added a little more, especially to the ending. (2.5/5)

Outcast:  Don't confuse this with my upcoming novel The Outcast, Book #1 (pre-order it now!); this is about two white guys who save China after they flee the Crusades.  The emperor or whatever of China dies and in Gladiator fashion wants his young son to run the place but the older son isn't going to go along with it and so tries to kill the guy, who hooks up with opium fiend Hayden Christensen who for some reason looks like he's auditioning for Imagine Dragons.  Later they find Nicolas Cage, who has a terrible accent.  And in Gladiator fashion it all ends with a duel. I'm not sure how two random knights managed to get to China many years before Marco Polo or why later they're walking through a desert with camels.  Well obviously historical accuracy wasn't a priority.  (2/5)

Next:  I remember Roger Ebert saying this movie was good.  With all respect to the dead, I disagree.  Mostly it was boring and the end was unsatisfying.  Nic Cage is a Vegas magician with the ability to see 2 minutes ahead in time...sometimes.  Other times he can see farther than that, mostly concerning some girl he hasn't met yet (Jessica Biel).  Anyway, Julianne Moore is a bitchy FBI agent who wants to use Nic Cage to find a stolen Russian nuke some French guy stole for some reason and took to LA again for some reason that didn't seem all that clear.  But most of the movie involves Nic Cage trying to evade capture.  And then the end does sort of a "Superman" (1978), which was a little silly.  It was just one of those high concept movies that didn't pan out.  Plus lots of crappy CGI and green screen. (2/5)

J Edgar:  I remember this came out and I didn't get around to watching it.  Which was probably for the best.  It's a long, rambling tale framed by J Edgar Hoover dictating his memoirs, though as we learn he's sort of an unreliable narrator.  Most of it focuses on his closeted relationship with his right-hand man and his creepy relationship with his mom.  If you ever saw Oliver Stone's "Nixon" it's kind of the same thing in the rise of a socially awkward mama's boy.  Unlike what we've often heard about J Edgar Hoover, there's no cross-dressing, though at one point he holds up one of his mom's dresses to his body. (2/5)

Excess Baggage:  Alicia Silverstone is a rich brat who fakes her one kidnapping for money and attention.  But then she ends up getting sorta kidnapped for real by Benicio del Toro.  And then mayhem (and romance) ensues.  It's kind of lame and predictable. (2/5)

Repo Man:  The premise for this was pretty simple:  Emilio Estavez becomes a repo man to make some money.  But then somehow it turns into the X-Files with FBI agents and UFOs and whatever the fuck was going on; I couldn't really keep track. (1/5)

So I Married An Ax Murderer:  Lame, unfunny Mike Myers comedy from the early 90s that proves Mike Myers is only funny when doing a character like Wayne or Austin Powers.  Though maybe all the Scottish stuff in this was his inspiration for Shrek.  BTW, did you know Chris Farley was supposed to be Shrek?  After he died Mike Myers took over the role.  That's more interesting than anything in this movie, though it did at least have a twist to not make it completely predictable. (1/5)

Spun:  This is kind of like a slightly less depressing Requiem for a Dream.  Jason Schwartzman is a methhead who winds up becoming the driver to a meth cook (Mickey Rourke) and his girlfriend, the late Brittany Murphy.  And then mayhem ensues.  It didn't really hold my interest; I fell asleep about halfway through.  Even rewatching later it didn't really hold my attention very well.  (2/5)

Double Team:  Back in the 90s you had basketball stars like Michael Jordan and Shaq appearing in movies, so someone thought it would be a good idea to team Jordan teammate Dennis Rodman with Jean-Claude Van Damme.  The needlessly complicated plot has JCVD not killing Mickey Rourke, for which he's sent to some island that's like that show "The Prisoner."  He escapes to hook up with Rodman, who's a weapons dealer.  Mayhem ensues that at the end involves landmines and fighting a tiger.  Just because.  Besides the tortured basketball puns (including the title) Rodman at one point says he doesn't play with the "bad boys" anymore, which is a reference to the two championships he won with the "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons.  Ha.  Fortunately for us Dennis Rodman's acting career never really took off. (2/5)

Ballers:  This is kind of like Showtime's House of Lies meets ESPN's old Playmakers show.  The Rock(!!!) is a former NFL player turned "financial manager" which largely means getting his players out of sex scandals.  Like Spike's Blue Mountain State there's not really any football, though it's because this takes place during the lengthy offseason.  Those who talk about a lack of diversity on TV would be happy about this as Rob Corddry plays the token white guy in the cast.  Overall I liked it as like the other shows I mentioned it's kind of a soap opera with sports.  The end was a little too happy, not really setting anything up for a Season 2.  Not that I wanted a "Game of Thrones" style mega-downer ending, but everything seemed to work out too neatly.  The real question I kept having is if Omar Benson Miller is Forest Whittaker's son; he looks so much like him but the IMDB page didn't really say anything.  Anyway, it was on HBO but you can find it on HBO Go or on demand or something.  (2.5/5)

And since apparently no one read last week's, I'm going to rerun it.  Suck it.

Justice League:  Gods & Monsters:  This is an alternate universe or "Elseworlds" tale where Superman is the son of Zod, Wonder Woman is the granddaughter of the "Highfather," and Batman is a scientist who turned into a vampire.  While not evil like the Crime Syndicate (the real Justice League's doppelgangers) this is a lot grittier Justice League.  When someone starts rubbing out scientists in ways that look like the Justice League is responsible, they have to find the real killer before the government wipes them out.  This was really good.  The bad guy wasn't too easy to spot, so that made it better than if it had just been Lex Luthor or someone obviously evil.  While it's a cartoon featuring superheroes it is definitely not for your little kiddies, especially the "Red Wedding" on Apokolips.  This is more for fans of grownup comics like "Watchmen."  The vampire Batman makes me wish they'd do a movie version of the Batman: Red Rain graphic novel. (4/5)

Enough Said:  I haven't watched this whole movie in one sitting but I caught pretty much the whole thing in pieces.  Basically Julia Louise-Dreyfuss and James Gandolfini are single parents whose kids are about to leave the nest.  And they develop a relationship but things don't necessarily go that smoothly.  It was OK but the ending is the kind where it just sort of ends without resolution.  And obviously there won't be a sequel since Gandolfini is dead. (2/5)

The Barber:  Similar to the Kevin Costner movie "Mr. Brooks" this is about a young guy who hooks up with a serial killer to try to learn the craft.  Twenty years ago Floyd Visser terrorized Chicago by stalking and killing young women.  A police detective thought he had Visser nailed but he ended up going free and the detective killed himself with his young son in the next room.  Skip forward to the present in a small town where Visser is working as a barber who is a pillar of the community.  A young guy shows up and wants to be trained in how to kill people.  It's pretty obvious what's going on but the movie throws a curve ball near the end that's just a red herring.  Maybe you can guess what's going on just from the description.  Anyway, it's a good movie for the most part.  Scott Glenn does a dark turn on his recent kung-fu master roles in "MARVEL'S Daredevil" and "Sucker Punch" as the supposed serial killer and mentor.  (3/5)

Stranger Than Fiction:  I usually avoid Will Ferrell movies but eventually I decided that since this was not a lame comedy and involved writing I could watch it.  Basically it's about an IRS agent who starts to hear an author's narration and finds out she's planning to kill him in a book.  As writers you've probably all had a character who was supposed to die and you didn't really want to go through with it.  So is the problem for the author in the movie, especially when her character shows up on her doorstep.  Makes you wonder how GRR Martin can so gleefully kill off so many characters. Overall it's a decent movie; one of Ferrell's better performances. (3/5)

The Mexican:  This movie paired Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts when they were still pretty much at the height of their popularity.  Neither one is of course "the Mexican;" the title refers to a fancy old gun in Mexico that Brad Pitt has to retrieve, but things get complicated when the car he leaves it in is stolen.  Meanwhile, Julia Roberts is kidnapped by James Gandolfini and they start to bond, though he's gay so they don't bond in that way.  Anyway, it's a mostly fun crime movie with a few twists and turns to keep it interesting. (3/5)

Detention:  The description was a girl in detention has to save her class from a masked killer at the prom.  Which seems straight-forward enough.  But somehow it works time travel, body swapping, aliens, and a guy with fly blood in his veins into the mix.  The result is very, very odd and yet a lot of it is pretty funny.  If you ever read or saw John Dies at the End it's kind of like that as far as "horror"-type movies go.  And someone like me enjoyed all the 90s references. (2.5/5)

The Phantom:  This was from the brief period in the 90s when they tried to revive ancient 30s heroes.  Basically the idea here was to combine Indiana Jones with a superhero movie.  The result was a lot better than The Shadow, but still not all that great.  Since it was an origin story for a property dating from my grandparents' time, it would have been nice to get some background on who the Phantom is before 90% of the movie has gone by.  Anyway, it was decent though it could have used some better effects too. (2.5/5)

Enemy Mine:  I probably watched this on VHS back in the 80s but it was on HBO so I thought I'd revisit it.  The effects have really not aged well.  The overall story is pretty decent where two pilots, one human and one "Drac" crash onto a desolate planet and become friends.  There are a couple of plot holes it seems near the end especially as Dennis Quaid basically comes back from the dead to save the day despite that he had spent hours (if not days) being shipped off the planet to a space station.  They didn't realize he was dead?  Between that and the crappy effects it's a little hard to watch. (2/5)

Reno 911! Miami:  I only caught a few minutes of this show when it was on Comedy Central, usually before or after South Park.  Anyway, somehow it got a movie that has a completely implausible plot.  The Reno sheriffs are the only left to patrol Miami when the real police force is trapped in a convention hall.  So they have to keep the city safe and find who did it.  Hilarity is supposed to ensue but didn't really.  Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt guest star as the bad guys, the former doing a Scarface impersonation. (2/5)

Epic Movie:  Speaking of movies that aren't really funny!  I didn't really choose to watch it; I just left it on HBO and didn't go fetch the remote.  Anyway, this was made in 2007 so it's a mash-up of movies from 2005-2006 like Chronicles of Narnia, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, X-Men Last Stand, and Pirates of the Caribbean with bits from Snakes on a Plane, The da Vinci Code, Superman Returns, and Harry Potter.  As you'd expect it's cheap, low-rent reference "humor" that is mostly pretty lame. (1/5)

Community Season 6:  Before Yahoo! bought an original series, it would have been nice if they had actually developed a decent Roku app to watch it on.  I think their app was mostly designed for video clips, so watching a whole 30-minute-ish episode it kept buffering.  Plus there's no sign-in so there's no way to resume when the thing bombs.  You could say it's my connection but I watched Seasons 1-5 on Hulu without much of a problem.  Anyway, the problem especially with this season is cast attrition.  They had pretty much the same group through the first 4 seasons then Chevy Chase left and shortly after Donald Glover left.  They replaced Chevy Chase with Mike from "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" but he's gone in this season as well as original cast member Yvette Nicole Brown.  The new additions aren't really great either.  The Paget Brewster character was pretty well worthless though the Keith David one is better because Keith David is awesome; he's #2 on my list of guys I'd like to do an audiobook for me--after James Earl Jones.  Anyway, when you've replaced half your cast almost it's hard to keep things going at the same level.  The loss of Donald Glover is probably the most noticeable because Abed without Troy is like Inspector Spacetime without Constable Reggie (or Dr. Who without a companion, Sherlock without Watson, Bert without Ernie); it leaves no one to help build blanket forts and so forth.  I'm just not sure what the point of the sixth season really was.  It didn't really advance any character development and except for a sort of Ed Wood-ish sci-fi movie there wasn't much in terms of madcap adventures; the dean didn't even wear any funny outfits.  As a backhanded compliment, it wasn't as bad as Netflix's season of "Arrested Development."  The showrunners liked to talk about "six seasons and a movie" so I guess now it's time to Kickstarter a movie into existence.  Though I don't know why.  Has there been a single good movie out of an existing comedy (not a big screen reboot)?  The Simpsons was OK, South Park was lame, and I don't know about Sex and the City or Entourage.  It works better with sci-fi series like Star Trek or Firefly.  That's a long way of saying this was not the greatest. (2/5)

The League Season 6:  This originally aired this time last year when I was living in motels.  I don't think there's a motel except maybe the fanciest that would have FXX on its channels and it's really not good enough of a show to buy on Amazon.  FX is kind of assholes in that they make you wait a whole year to watch the prior season on streaming or buy it on DVD; they do the same shit with Archer and Always Sunny in Philadelphia and it really sucks.  I mean at least put the DVD out a couple months later; it's not like they rerun these that much and again, who the hell has FXX?  So, um, anyway, this is basically more of the same meathead comedy about a fantasy football league.  Since obviously they film these in advance sometimes the inaccurate predictions of the football season are some of the best humor.  Like in Season 5 where the one couple on the show was competing to get Rams running back Isaiah Pead who in real life never amounted to anything except to have a funny name.  Anyway, you've never watched seasons 1-5 and you probably never will, so why am I even bothering to talk about this?  But then that's true for most everything else on here. It does always make me want to play fantasy football, though I usually remember pretty quick why I don't:  it's super annoying.  (2/5)

If you want an indication of how unoriginal Hollywood is, there are at least 7 Leprechaun movies for some reason.  The first one was notable mostly for starring Jennifer Aniston just before she made it big in Friends.  Since they were all on Crackle I decided to watch the others, though Crackle got rid of them before I finished but Netflix to the rescue!  Which is better since Netflix doesn't have commercials.

Leprechaun:  The original and still the best, which isn't saying much.  The plot setup doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  An Irish guy captures a leprechaun in Ireland (somehow), steals his gold, and then goes back to his house in North Dakota, where the leprechaun tracks him down.  Ten years later, a guy buys the house and decides to bring his daughter (Jennifer Aniston) from LA to help spruce it up.  Then a little kid and a mentally challenged painter find the gold and mayhem ensues.  It's an OK blend of action and humor, though I don't think it was good enough to spawn five sequels and a reboot. (2.5/5)

Leprechaun 2:  So the evil Leprechaun has waited 1000 years to claim his bride--the descendant of some chick he was going to marry but then she died--and it just so happens that the tree he lives in is transplanted to Hollywood, where the girl he's supposed to marry just so happens to be.  Convenient, no?  But the leprechaun is ugly and she's in love with some loser, so obviously she doesn't want to marry him.  Mayhem ensues. I fell asleep the first time with like 10 minutes left so I had to rewind to the not-so-thrilling conclusion. (2/5)

Leprechaun 3:  There's pretty much no continuity with these.  Somehow though the leprechaun was blown up in the last movie in this one he is frozen as a statue until someone takes off a magic necklace.  Then he rampages through Vegas to get back a gold shilling.  Again I fell asleep the first time around. I caught up later to find out that some loser gets bit by the leprechaun and starts turning into one.  Meanwhile anyone who makes a wish on the missing gold coin gets it granted--though is soon killed by the leprechaun in some bizarre over-the-top fashion.  Guess it's good I didn't find any gold coins when I was in Vegas.  The way they beat the Leprechaun seemed pretty implausible.  I mean setting fire to gold with a blowtorch would just melt it, right?  At best.  It wouldn't make the stuff disappear.  And if there was still one coin left, wouldn't the leprechaun still be alive?  I'm overthinking it I know. (2/5)

Leprechaun 4:  This would have to be in the running for worst movie ever.  The plot makes absolutely no sense.  Somehow the leprechaun is in space in the future and trying to kidnap and marry an alien princess.  A ship with a bunch of dim-witted soldiers is sent to stop him.  There's a parody of the scene from Alien where the leprechaun bursts out of some dude's dick.  If that's not enough for you there's the transvestite cyborg dance number and creepy spider-scorpion-guy.  Between the nonsensical story, hammy acting, and awful effects it makes me yearn for great films like Batman & Robin. (1/5)

Leprechaun 5:  To say this was an improvement isn't saying much since there was literally nowhere to go--except "to the hood."  The lack of continuity continues as we basically forget the 4th movie existed, which is for the best.  In the 70s Ice-T finds a leprechaun statue and steals its gold flute and puts the leprechaun in his office, where its unleashed when some wanna-be rappers rob the place.  And then mayhem ensues.  This was pretty much offensive to every ethnic group as well as those of good taste.  But it's probably the only place where you can see the guy from "Willow" and various Star Wars movies rapping. (2/5)

Leprechaun 6:  The problem when you switch writers and directors with pretty much every movie is there's no consistency.  Like at the end of the last movie the leprechaun was still alive.  Then at the start of this one he's frozen or whatever again until some black kids "in tha hood" find his gold and reawaken him.  In some of the movies the leprechaun is always rhyming and others (like this) he isn't; I guess it depends how lazy the writer is.  In some movies the leprechaun uses magic a lot and others (like this) he really doesn't.  There was a lot less goofy rapping and stuff so it's a little less offensive.  It's kind of annoying that the leprechaun is seemingly killed about two-dozen times.  He's shot, burned, punched repeatedly, has his eye gouged out with electric hair clippers, stuffed into an incinerator, but somehow he can't survive falling into wet cement.  Um, really? (2/5)

Leprechaun Origins:  This was a reboot from last year.  Like all the other reboots of horror movie franchises it's pretty lame.  Basically this is just a generic "cabin in the woods" story.  Four dopey young people are taken to a remote village in Ireland and preyed upon by the "leprechaun" which according to this is a feral combination of Predator and Gollum.  As bad as most of the original Leprechaun movies were, at least they had a sense of humor.  This was just a total bore. I mean there's not even a sense of irony or any winking references to the previous movies or anything.  I'm not sure if whoever made this even watched any of the other movies.  To top it off, it's the annoying kind of movie that stretches the credits out to like 15 minutes so they can pad the run time.  Interspersed between screen of the credits are shots of someone looking around a basement.  After a while it's like, "Is there a point to this?"  I mean in the "Dawn of the Dead" remake they showed footage from a video camera at the end to show you what happened to the people.  This was just to give an excuse to stretch the credits and lead up to a lame "scare" where the "leprechaun" leaps out at you.  The whole thing was so unoriginal that it was a total snooze.  (0/5)

1 comment:

  1. I remember liking "Enemy Mine." I guess anything that old just won't compare to today's special effects, etc.



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