Monthly Archives: February 2010

A Couple of Dicks

Cop Out ~ This is the second time (that I know of) that Kevin Smith has been cock-blocked over a movie title. First Zack and Miri Make a Porno was trimmed to Zack and Miri for family viewing advertising purposes. This time, the entire title has been changed, from the funny and on-the-nose A Couple of Dicks to the ridiculous Cop Out. Although, in hindsight, this might be a better title for the finished product, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The title is indicative of the genre it’s paying homage to.

This is the film that Smith talked about in great detail when I saw him in Philly a few months back, at the time tentatively called A Couple of Dicks. Smith talked about how Bruce Willis knew what he was doing, had been doing it for years and wouldn’t let Kevin direct him. It shows on the screen. But maybe it was intentional.

Cop Out comes off both as a relic of the 1980s buddy cop movies, and as a perfect homage to those same 1980s buddy cop movies. And Bruce Willis is a veteran of that era, and a master of the genre. Smith uses Willis’ reluctance to be directed and his experience to the film’s advantage. Willis’ solo scenes, along with those of the flick’s villains, are right out of the target decade. Smith might as well as recruited the bad guys from an old Steven Seagal cop movie. One of the good ones, that is.

The sound of the flick is also unique and homage. Kevin Smith wisely utilized not only 1980s and 80s-type tunage for the film but also brought Harold Faltermeyer, composer of the Beverly Hills Cop films among others, out of retirement to do the score. Brilliant. Despite the current day trappings of the Cullen brothers script, the soundtrack never lets you forget what it is you’re watching.

Kevin Smith actual direction surprised me. He’s very good at action despite what he himself says. There are scenes that surprise with their effectiveness, like the backwards car chase and the gunfight at the end. All very eighties, mind you, but effective. Smith’s movement is fluid and quick-cut all at once, and it’s a good thing. I’d really like to see his Green Hornet or Fletch now after seeing this.

Tracy Morgan is hill-larry-us as his hype promises, and the highlight of the film. Seann William Scott is fun whenever he’s on screen (perhaps he should be more in a sequel, hint hint) and the cameos by Susie Essman and Jim Norton are a hoot. And any predictability, clichés or monotony of the 1980s buddy cop genre that are present are elevated by the considerable talent of Willis, Morgan and Smith. Great flick and fun night at the movies.

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French Fry Diary 96: Route 11 Barbeque Potato Chips

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker ~ This is a guy movie, and a damn good one – but I think if it wasn’t set in the topical Iraq War, it probably wouldn’t be nominated. That’s not to say it’s not a good film – it’s a great film. But we all know that politics –especially politically correct politics- always sways the Academy. The Ministry soundtrack of anti-war, anti-Bush music hits the point home where the film’s heart is.

The Hurt Locker is something we haven’t seen in some time, a war movie, and that’s probably because currently, we are at war. And it’s a new age war movie. The way that films like Platoon, Apocalypse Now and Steel Metal Jacket changed our perceptions, The Hurt Locker will as well.

Performances by Jeremy Renner and especially Anthony Mackie, who was ashamedly not nominated for Best Actor, are top notch, and overshadow easily veteran actors like Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce. It was directed by James Cameron’s wife Kathryn Bigelow at her husband’s urging – and now she might beat him for the Best Picture Oscar.

This is an intense, no holds barred, war movie for our time – and highly recommended – my odds-on favorite to win the Oscar. So far.

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Guy Fieri’s Asian Street Fries

Quickies 2-25-2010

A Serious Man ~ The latest from the brilliant writer/director Coen brothers at first seems to be about a 1967 college professor whose life unravels after his wife leaves him, but underneath it all, it’s really a black comedy about Jewish religious mystery. This strong contender for Best Picture Oscar is a step back in the right direction for Coens after a couple misfires. Highly recommended.

GI Joe: Resolute ~ This animated version of GI Joe represents a more adult interpretation. Rather than ray gun weapons and morality plays, this one has knives, guns and blood. The realism is more gimmicky than anything else as the story and the characters are fairly predictable and pedestrian. A fun watch for fans but offers little else to the rest of us.

Temple Grandin ~ An excellent entry from HBO Films based on a the true story of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who designed more humane methods for taking care of and unfortunately slaughtering cattle. It’s a powerful story with an actoring tour de force by Claire Danes as the title role that if she doesn’t get an Emmy nod it’s a crime. Highly recommended.

What Happens in Vegas ~ Harmless but fairly predictable 2008 romantic comedy about two people, Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, who meet and marry in Las Vegas while intoxicated then hit the jackpot. To keep the cash, a judge orders them to stay married for six months, and hilarity, as they say, ensues. It’s predictable fun, even though I still don’t see what the big deal about Kutcher is.

The Dead One ~ This minor horror flick is proof that typecasting sometimes can not be broken. Wilmer Valderrama of “That ‘70s Show” plays the undead pawn of an ancient evil Aztec god, and it’s really not a bad scary movie, with legitimate horror moments, but every time Wilmer is on screen all I could think was “It’s Fez!” Really ruined it for me.

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Don’t Take Chris Farley’s Fries

High Definition

You know that the next level in television technology has been reached when you will watch something you have zero interest in – just because it looks so damn good.

I don’t care all that much about the Olympics, and now that they’re every two years, they’re not even that special any more. Yes, the opening and closing ceremonies are sometimes fun in a train wreck sort of way, and yes, it’s great when the US is winning or some new hero with a heart-pulling back story makes good, and heaven forbid someone dies – but for the most part – don’t care, don’t care, where’s my Okama Gamesphere, ya know?

New Year’s Day we got ourselves a late Christmas present, a big old widescreen high definition television. Now we’re spoiled and loving it. But there are interesting side effects. The Olympics. Whoa. They just look so good in high def. It’s the most stunning stuff I’ve seen on television since the switch. I am mesmerized.

Now excuse me while I go watch curling…

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French Fry Diary 95: Worst Fries in America

Eurovision 2010 – Malta

Here’s Thea Garrett with “My Dream,” Malta’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. It seems that of the dozen or so final entries in already, many are long boring ballads like this one. I certainly hope the remaining countries inject some of the usual Eurovision quirkiness into their music or this stands to be a fairly boring competition this year…

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Sherlock Holmes Destroy All Monsters

Sherlock Holmes ~ Yeah, this is the other film called “Sherlock Holmes” that came out in 2009. This one, from The Asylum, has been nicknamed in genre circles “Sherlock Holmes Destroy All Monsters” because of its plot involving giant monsters overrunning Victorian London. It’s also been alternately known as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, not that that helps much. For those not in the know, The Asylum specializes in making near-beer copies straight-to-DVD of blockbusters currently in theatres.

While it’s more Jurassic Park than Destroy All Monsters, it is an interesting entry, told from Watson’s point of view some forty to fifty years after the fact, and old Watson himself hypes it as Holmes’ “greatest and least known achievement.” Holmes is played by a relative unknown named Ben Syder, while young Watson is Gareth David-Lloyd of “Torchwood” fame. Villain of English legend, and the villain of this piece as well, Springheel Jack is brought to life by Domenic Keating, late of “Enterprise.” Both, while being quirky genre favorites disappoint here.

The movie moves painfully slow and neither lead has the charisma (at least here) to keep viewers interested. I seriously believe that Ben Syder may be the worst Sherlock Holmes ever, and must surely be related to someone involved in the production. Gareth Davod-Lloyd looks alternately bored and sedated, nowhere near as cool (or even uncool) as his “Torchwood” character Ianto – but at least he is more engaging than Syder.

When it does get exciting (it’s rare, but it happens) the action comes off like a flavorless episode of the old “Doctor Who.” There’s even a weird Cyberman-like episode that wants so badly to be Russel T. Davies-ish, it’s painful. And, now that I think of it, this flick probably owes more to the Who episode “The Next Doctor” than it does Sherlock Holmes. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss the badly CGI-ed dinosaurs, and the giant robots. Believe me, it’s nowhere near as cool as I just made that sound. Give this one a miss, and go see the other Sherlock Holmes movie again. You’ll thank me.

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