Category Archives: oscars

Wild Hogs

Wild Hogs ~ Sometimes it’s surprising what you’ll watch when there’s nothing else to watch or you have nothing better to do. I had the unfortunate circumstance of having already seen most of what was available to view in the theater and OnDemand while on our recent Disney Cruise. And that’s what brought me to Wild Hogs.

This movie, from start to finish, is like a cry for help, no, not help, a serious cry of desperation. Four actors, ahem, I mean, men, having their mid-life crises and turning to their motorcycle hobby for comfort and excitement. Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy star in this badly written, painfully performed, ultimately unsatisfying flick.

Its script and premise might’ve worked for a sixties Jack Lemmon or Jerry Lewis farce, but audiences and acting is more sophisticated now. I really had to wonder who this movie was for. Ten year-olds? I know ten year-olds this might be too simple for, even some of the gags don’t make sense.

Well, hopefully those who phoned it in (I’m looking at you, William and Martin, you should be ashamed of yourselves) got paid well enough to pay their rent, and Tim and John had time to trade hairpiece care secrets. It’s almost as if they are acting at each other the lack of chemistry is so bad. Ray Liotta and Marisa Tomei are similarly wasted here.

If you’re ever itching to forget that Macy and Travolta have been nominated for Oscars, this is the flick for you. Wow, what a bad movie.

Miley Gone Mad?

With an impending birthday coming this week, after watching the opening number of this year’s MTV VMAs, I had to ask myself two questions. Or rather one question with a choice. Am I old, or has Miley Cyrus lost her mind?

I am concerned for her well being honestly. The woman is clearly out of control, if not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or just plain stupidity. If she was a close friend, or a member of our families – you know damned straight she’d be long overdue for an intervention.

Yeah, and there it is. It’s not like the VMAs don’t have a reputation for controversy. I remember quite clearly as a young man seeing Madonna hump the floor in a bridal gown while singing “Like a Virgin.” I will never forget that as long as I live. Later shows have tried to recreate or top that moment, but rarely succeeding. It may be time for MTV to stop trying to do that, and just do an awards show. The Oscars and the Tonys have both shown in recent years that ‘just an awards show’ can actually be quite good.

What bothers me most about the Miley Cyrus performance at the VMAs is that no one stopped it, no one pulled her aside and said No. Even Robin Thicke, especially co-conspirator Robin Thicke should have known better. Lady GaGa is outrageous. Madonna is outrageous. But poor Miley just made us feel embarrassed and worried for her.

Outrageous, unique, and controversial are something to aspire to in the entertainment industry, but this was just a freak show, and pitiful and shocking for most of us to watch. And I’m sure Will Smith and his family agrees with me.

Ben Affleck Is Batman!

So Ben Affleck will play Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, likely to be called Batman Vs. Superman.

The announcement came late last night while my friend Ray and I were recording this week’s GAR! Podcast. Had we known, we surely would have been discussing it. Instead you get the usual Prince, Dave Sim, Avengers, and French fries mix of goodness, lucky you. You can hear it here, shameless plug.

After the recording I got on Facebook and Twitter to watch the internet explode. Seemed like no one was happy with the casting.

Well, he’s no Michael Keaton. I mean, it could be worse. He could be Michael Keaton.

What’s that you say? Michael Keaton was one of the best Batmen, he was Batman. Yeah, right. Y’all got selective memories. I remember it quite differently.

I remember people screaming and whining that Mr. Mom/Beetlejuice was the worst choice for a serious version of Batman. The balding no-chinned comedian was no Batman. In the pre-internet world of 1988, this was a horrible mistake, and the angry fanboy letters burning the pages of the Comics Buyer’s Guide were proof of it.

And now, over two decades and two movies later, Keaton is considered one of the best Batmen. So why are people so riled up about Ben Affleck? Because Daredevil was a dud in the theaters? Hell, I liked Daredevil, and liked the director’s cut even more. I even liked Elektra.

And even if I’m wrong about that, what about Affleck’s Oscar and other awards and nominations for acting, writing, and directing? He even has comic book cred beyond Daredevil as an actor in the Kevin Smith films and playing George (Superman) Reeves in Hollywoodland. Talk Gigli and Pearl Harbor all you want, you can’t take Argo or The Town away from him. Everyone has hits and misses.

I think Ben Affleck can pull off Batman and Bruce Wayne like a pro. I dare say he might be a better Batman than anyone else we’ve seen. And yeah, I’m saying that based on his Daredevil performance. I stand behind Ben as Batman. If Michael Keaton could do it…

My Oscar Picks 2013

My opinion really doesn’t count for all that much this year as some personal issues have kept me from seeing many of the films this year, but folks expect to see my picks, so this year, I will choose by instinct and odds rather than any educated guesses. I still might get lucky. Here you go…

  • Best animated feature – Brave
  • Best animated short film – Paperman
  • Best visual effects – Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Best original screenplay – Django Unchained
  • Best original score, and song – Skyfall
  • Best costume design – Snow White and the Huntsman
  • Best direction – Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actress – Sally Field for Lincoln
  • Best supporting actor – Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
  • Best actress – Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
  • Best actor – Denzel Washington for Flight
  • Best picture – Silver Linings Playbook
  • Yep, that’s right. I’m predicting a complete shut out for Le Miz. Nothing against the flick, but that’s just how it played out as I picked category by category.

    What do you folks think?

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook ~ You might have noticed its been quite a while since I posted about any movies currently in theaters. Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been out to a movie. Tonight, after dinner with good friends we haven’t seen in a while, we decided to hit a flick last minute. I wanted Die Hard or The Hobbit, but the ladies settled on multiple Oscar nom rom com drama Silver Linings Playbook.

    What a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know all that much about it beyond the noms for best picture, best actor Bradley Cooper, best actress Jennifer Lawrence, best supportings Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, and best director David O. Russell. Surprisingly all of the noms are well deserved, some might not win, but all well deserved.

    Based on the book “The Silver Linings Playbook” by local teacher turned novelist Matthew Quick. That alone lends credibility to the locale of the flick – Philadelphia, as well as the passion for Eagles football so important to the story. That story has bi-polar Patrick (Cooper) trying to repair his life and get his wife back, even though she’s moved on while he was in a mental hospital. Enter Tiffany (Lawrence) widowed and equally flawed, trying to get him back on his feet.

    Cooper and Lawrence are no strangers to Oscar, and recently she has gained serious genre cred as Catniss and young Mystique. I think Jennifer Lawrence’s best years are ahead of her, and right now she’s better than most other actresses her age. I loved her here. DeNiro and Weaver are just as good as Cooper’s parents. The whole film is full of terrific performances, including Julia Stiles, Shea Whigham of “Boardwalk Empire,” Anupam Kher, and believe it or not, a completely non-annoying Chris Tucker.

    This was a great flick, I definitely see a couple (at least) Oscars coming its way this weekend, but let’s face it. It’s no Die Hard. 😉

    DJ K-Tell Presents – Get the Hook!

    Join DJ K-Tell, with random performances from The Dumpsta Players, this coming Wednesday for “GET THE HOOK!”

    During the 1930s Vaudeville era, “Get the hook!” was a cry from the audience to get a bad performer off the stage. Someone in the wings would get a hooked pole and hook the performer away.

    Start 2013 as The Dumpstas celebrate the losers who fail to deliver a performance loved by all!

    Show us your individuality and take home a PRIZE!!!

    Dress as History’s famous losers! Tonya Harding, Walter Mondale, Clay Aiken, Mimi Imfurst, Susan Lucci, and the Oscar loser, “The Color Purple”!

    The Date: January 16, 2013
    The Time: 9:00 PM EST
    The Place: Bob and Barbara’s, 1509 South Street, Philadelphia PA

    Let’s get crazzzzy – it’s January 😉

    Check out The Dumpsta Players on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and on their own website.

    Charles Durning 1923-2012

    On the same day we lost Jack Klugman, Christmas Eve, we also lost Charles Durning, the king of the character actors. The multiple award-winning actor, featured in over a hundred films, was 89.

    I first encountered Charles Durning as Detective Moretti in Dog Day Afternoon. He was the likable but straight arrow cop who negotiated with Al Pacino’s bank robber Sonny Wortzik. I love the film, a time capsule of the 1970s, that earned Durning a Best Supporting Actor nom from the Golden Globes. But it’s not his only film, before or since.

    Durning’s resume also includes terrific roles in The Sting, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Muppet Movie, and Tootsie, among so many others. He was also a veteran of the Second World War, won a Tony for playing Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and had regular parts on the TV shows “Evening Shade,” “Family Guy,” “Everyone Loves Raymond,” and “Rescue Me.”

    Throughout his long career as an actor he was rarely not working, and was always playing memorable characters. We’ve lost another of the greats. He will be missed.

    Charly

    Charly ~ Back in high school we had to read the short story version of “Flowers for Algernon,” we could read the novel by Daniel Keyes too, if we wanted, for extra credit. It was the tale of a mentally retarded man who is ‘cured’ by the miracle of science.

    In 1968 it was made into the film Charly, which won Cliff Robertson an Oscar in the title role. I’ve never seen it in its entirety until now. What a pleasant and emotional surprise. Robertson’s transformation from simple to complex, shall we say, is amazing, but then again, he’s always been a terrific actor.

    Claire Bloom is straight and adequate, somewhat of a cipher. She is neither good nor bad as Charly’s teacher/girlfriend. The late Ravi Shankar produces an intriguing and decidedly non-Eastern score.

    The director Ralph Nelson, who also did Father Goose, Lilies of the Field, and Soldier Blue, is one of the reasons Charly stands out as a film. His odd and original use of split screen, and picture in picture techniques mark the movie as different.

    Toward the end, when the story and ending becomes clear, it takes on a Rod Serling vibe, as if it were an extended episode of “The Twilight Zone” or “Night Gallery.” It’s sad and troubling, but good is a story if it does evoke an emotional reaction, right? Great flick, recommended.

    Life of Pi

    Life of Pi ~ Well, it may not be the live action version of Calvin and Hobbes, but the moral of the story is Don’t move to Canada.

    I saw Life of Pi the day after I saw Skyfall, marking not only a return for me to seeing movies in theaters after a while, but also seeing two visually stunning films back to back. The visuals are amazing. This is notably the first film I have seen in 2D, that was available in 3D, that I have regretted not seeing in 3D. I spent a good amount of time saying, “Wow, that would have been incredible in 3D.”

    Told in flashback, in the framing sequence of a man telling a writer of a life-changing event he experienced as a younger man, Life of Pi is about perception. Pi’s family, who owns a zoo in India, decides to move to Canada, with the animals, via a shady Japanese freighter. Shipwrecked, Pi finds himself alone with a tiger on a lifeboat at sea for months. His survival is at the core of the tale, and director Ang Lee makes it all worthwhile with this incredible piece of eye candy.

    There’s a kicker at the end, that in the film disappointed me, but had I read the book the movie is based on, I might have hurled it across the room. Yeah, it’s like that. Good thing I didn’t read the book, I’m sure it would have infuriated me. It is the stunning visuals in the film that talk my anger in off the ledge.

    Young Pi, played by Suraj Sharma, is fantastic in a role using primarily gestures and facial expressions – and acting for the most part alone, with and against a completely CGI tiger. Yeah, that blew me away. There’s no tiger, it’s all CGI. But that tiger is a hell of an actor too. The adult Pi is played by one of my favorite Indian actors, Irrfan Khan, who folks might know from The Amazing Spider-Man or Slumdog Millionaire, but who I loved in HBO’s “In Treatment.” His performance is both solid and subtlety brilliant.

    Life of Pi must be seen, preferably on the big screen, and preferably in 3D. This film will be in contention for several Oscars this year. See it.

    And oh yeah, don’t move to Canada, or at least not the way Pi did.

    The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

    The Seven-Per-Cent Solution ~ Combining two themes I’ve been writing about here and elsewhere this year, I look at a Sherlock Holmes movie from the 1970s. Having never seen this one before, all I remember of hearing about it was the much ado about Holmes’ drug use. That’s not that big a deal however as it’s from the books, and therefore canon.

    The film sets its tone immediately with the opening credits, which reminded me unfortunately of those of Monty Python and the Holy Grail from the year before. This was to be a comedy then. The story purports that Moriarty’s evil was a drug induced paranoid delusion of the detective’s, and that he needed the help of Sigmund Freud to get well. In hypnosis sessions, the ‘true’ origins of Sherlock Holmes are revealed.

    The cast is filled with major star power including Robert Duvall as Watson with an impossible English accent. Alan Arkin as Freud, the underrated Charles Gray as Mycroft (a role he would play again in the PBS Jeremy Brett Holmes series), and Nicol Williamson as the simpering, almost imbecilic Holmes are all brilliant, and that’s not even mentioning Sir Lawrence Olivier as the maligned Prof. Moriarty. It’s not the way I want to see my Holmes, but there’s no denying the great performance.

    The film is based on the first of three Sherlock Holmes books by author and director Nicholas Meyer, who also received an Oscar nom for the screenplay. He is obviously a huge Holmes fan, and all three of the books were designed to fill in the blanks of the detective’s life, as well as dismiss some of the canon he felt didn’t quite fit. Sadly, the later included Moriarty.

    The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a beautifully shot, wickedly performed, and well designed mystery adventure, well worth watching, but it’s not the kind of Sherlock Holmes story I want to see. I guess, in the end, I’m a traditionalist.