June 2009

Talladega Nights: A Psuedo Bio Pic

As his tenth film as producer, Judd Apatow teamed with Will Ferrell and his writing partner, Adam McKay – who also directs the flick – for Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Yeah, one might guess at the eventual outcome of the film, but there are more than enough clever retorts and one liners to get anyone that has the ability to laugh or even chortle through the film. The cast, which includes Ferrell’s choice number two man, John C. Reilly, probably helps out more than just a little, with contributions coming from Sacha Baron Cohen as well.

Remembering Farrah Fawcett

Golden Globe nominee, off-Broadway star and international sex symbol Farrah Fawcett passed away on June 25 after battling cancer since 2006. She was 62 years old.

Like a lot of women, I’ve always wanted to resemble Farrah in some fashion—in my case, her hair. She was always famous for her glorious, wild blonde hair, and every time the wind sweeps mine up, I always declare, “Look at my Farrah Fawcett hair!”

Though I was never a huge fan, I have admired her work, and know that she was much more than a sex object.

Jason Segal Forgets Something

As the folks in the Judd Apatow Universe gain a bit of perspective due to the fact that everyone seems closer to 30 than 20 at this point, there are going to be more and more adult or traditional narratives that push through the ridiculous amalgam of dick jokes that still make up a hefty portion of most productions. Knocked Up obviously took a look at parent hood, as unrealistic as it was. And while the poorly tossed together Drillbit Taylor explored how much high school could suck, Forgetting Sarah Marshall examines a (kinda) simple relationship.

ZAZ: Ruthless People (1986)

My perception of almost anything tends to differ greatly from everyone else. It’s probably a fault of mine for being discerning in a manner that makes almost everything a disappointment. And while I’m not apt to be too discouraging about anything ZAZ (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker) has created, I can’t say that the trio’s foray into relatively straight comedy is the peak of their catalog. There is a slick sheen to Ruthless People that’s absent from the group’s previous directorial pursuits – this being the last effort that all three would be credited as directors.

Drillbit Taylor Will Easily Be Erased from Memory

While watching any flick, if one feels it necessary to take a break, it might not mean that the overall product is that strong or memorable. And even while writing this, I feel fatigued. But the basic lay out of Drillbit Taylor sounds like it should be decent. Take something written by Seth Rogen, adding Judd Apatow as the film’s producer and placing Owen Wilson to play the title character, an AWOL soldier, should come off decently well. Uhh, it didn’t.

Off the Charts - the story of a thousand dreams

When a director makes a film about a niche group of society, such as in Mighty Wind, or Best in Show, there’s a tacit contract made with the protagonists, that the director will treat his subjects with a degree of dignity, and most importantly, not hold them up as an object for ridicule. Yes, their accents might be different, their ways might seem curious, but if they are being put on screen so that an audience might point and laugh, well, anyone involved in making that film should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Of course, context is everything; an honest attempt at portraying a way of life might become a cause for laughter in front of the wrong group of people. You can probably guess what I think of them.

Fanboys: For Nerd Eyes Only

The nerd fervor over the editing and re-editing of Fanboys, which probably can’t be tagged with a proper year of release ever, makes sense when considered through the guise of simple obsession as opposed to money and film making. And at this point in the flicks saga, I can’t really say what version I was actually able to watch the other night.

Initially, when the film was written and shot, there was a character in place – Linus (Chris Marquette) – who had cancer. He and his two close friends with the addition of an estranged car salesman who once counted as the group’s fourth, eventually decide to storm the Skywalker Ranch in Marin County to snag a peek at the (then) unreleased Episode One.

McFly is All the Rage -- they're throwing it back to November 5, 1985...er '55

Apparently a British Pop band has adopted the name of an infamous movie family: McFly. Right now McFly is a big hit on the twitter circuit, so I thought I would have a little fun with the phenomenon of the McFly quizzes, and make a McFly Quiz of my own.

Take my McFly Quiz to find out which McFly member you are!!

 

I wonder if these youngsters will even get the joke. I mean, come on... McFly.. McFly, your shoe's untied.

2000's: A Cinematic Decade in Review (part 2)

This decade has basically been split in half when it comes to the kinds of movies that have made it to the silver screen. The first half of the 00's went decidedly to pure entertainment. It was all about super heroes, high fantasy, special effects and broad laughs. A few art films sneaked into the lineup, but it's apparent that American audiences wanted jokes and escapism in what turned out to be a rather dark period in our culture. The shift to heavier material in the second half of the decade indicates a recovery period. Stateside movie-goers have been more willing to embrace darker, more complex stories as of late. Looking at the films I've selected for the second part of this list, it all seems so cathartic in retrospect.

2000's: A Cinematic Decade in Review (part 1)

It's strange to think that there are only five months left in this decade of ours. It's been a strange one as far as the movies are concerned. There have been a few great pictures and loads of not-so-great releases. Studio budgets have gotten huge and CGI has become the gaudy, glaring centerpiece of the industry, usually to the detriment of the art. Looking back at each year since 2000, the worthwhile films stand in a sparse crowd when set apart from the otherwise disappointing offerings of the decade. Let's look back at some of the most important films of each year in the 2000's.

 

2000: Best In Show

Dewey Cox: An Average Stroll

The enjoyment one derives from work that Judd Apatow has contributed his talents to isn’t necessarily going to translate to Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. The style of humor and the number of site gags as well as the litany of dick and fart jokes is still firmly in place, but even when contrasted with other big screen ventures like The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Up there’s a certain sweetness lacking here. The writing is certainly still as funny with the film’s concept and frame being as bitingly satirical and clever as ever before. But there’s that one thing that’s lacking.

ZAZ: Top Secret! (1984)

As my continuing fascination with the low brow comedies of ZAZ (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker) continues, I made it to Top Secret! - which I somehow was able to miss every time that it was on TNT or TBS during my adolescents. And considering how ridiculous it is even now, it probably would have done me well to snag a quick viewing during my teen years. That doesn’t mean that the flick isn’t funny to this day, but its target audience is and was probably closer to 15 than anything else.

Dog Days: Summer Movies On The Horizon

Those long, hot Summer days are upon us. We've crossed the solstice and now it's time to go headlong into one of the year's busiest seasons for movies. We've had a so-so start. X-Men Origins: Wolverine left a lot to be desired, but Star Trek delivered in spades. Angels and Demons was a bit boring, though the family fare has ranged from decent (Night At The Museum) to excellent (Up). Now let's take a look at what's set to hit theaters in the coming two months.

 

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

70's Cult Classic Boxed Set for $4.99

God Bless the 70's. After a long delay, I received "Drive-In Cult Classics 8 Movie Collection" in the mail today from Amazon for $4.99. I had the option of watching the Stanley Cup FInals (seriously, how many Americans not living in Penguin states really care if Detroit wins or not?) or putting the first of the series into my DVD player- "Pick Up". I chose the latter and it did not disappoint too much, but was definitely no Frankenhooker.

ZAZ: Airplane! (1980)

Both Zuckers and Jim Abrahams return to the big screen for 1980's Airplane! after the ridiculous Kentucky Fried Movie. If one tried really hard, it might be possible to figure that in some way this film, in addition to lampooning staid dramas of the period, also did a bit of pretty forward thinking social examinations of class and background - that's a stretch though. Beginning with the premise that a former Air Force pilot's stewardess girlfriend is leaving him with his only recourse being to follow her on the plane, Ted Striker (Robert Hays) sets off a brilliant tirade of nonsensical jokes, miscues and other assorted low brow chortles.

ZAZ: Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

In the tradition of England's Monty Python, a number of films from the '70s ape a sort of endless montage feel. The previously discussed Groove Tube may have come earlier than other American takes on films made up of various and unrelated sketches, but The Kentucky Fried Movie may have been the most successful. And while Monty Python was in the throngs of stardom and breaking up, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker were composing an endless slew of skits, spoofs and crack ups, probably not fit for most of the viewing audience in 1977. The film wouldn't be the trio's greatness success - fiscally or artistically - but it has certainly maintained an enormous cult around it.

The Groove Tube: Public Access

The opening scene of The Groove Tube is an obvious filmic quote of Planet of the Apes. In this 1974 version of the sequence, the apes play cards, dance, make music and stumble upon fire before being drawn to a mystical box that we call television. But while these images play with the 1968 original a few years later Mel Brooks would recast this interplay as his introduction to History of the World, Part I.

Sunday Afternoon Classics

I don’t know about you, but I love Sunday afternoons. Sure, it’s the end of the weekend, there’s not a lot going on, and the specter of Monday morning and the working week hovers over your shoulder like an inheritance lawyer at a funeral; you know it’s coming, but you want to put it off for as long as possible. All this aside, it’s a chance to sit back, make some tea and have some cake, or maybe crack open a bottle of wine, if Saturday night will allow such a thing, and most importantly, put on a film.

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