Life in the Slow Lane

February 25, 2010

My Razzies ballot

Filed under: Entertainment,Life,Movies — pauljlane @ 5:03 pm

Following is how I voted in the 2009 Razzies competition.

Even they can't believe how bad "Land of the Lost" was, and they were in it.

 

My vote is x’ed in each category. This year’s Razzies event is the 30th anniversary gala.

WORST PICTURE of the DECADE 

____  BATTLFIELD EARTH (2000) 

 __x__  FREDDY GOT FINGERED (2001) 

____  GIGLI(2003) 

____  I KNOW WHO KILLED ME (2007) 

____  SWEPT AWAY (2002) 

WORST ACTRESS of the DECADE 

____  Mariah Carey  

__x__  Paris Hilton

____  Lindsay Lohan  

____  JenniferLopez

____  Madonna  

WORST ACTOR of the DECADE 

____  Ben Affleck 

____  Eddie Murphy 

__x__  Mike Myers

____  Rob Schneider 

____  John Travolta 

WORST SCREEN COUPLE of 2009  

____  Any Two (or More) Jonas Brothers /THE JONAS BROTHERS 3-D CONCERT EXPERIENCE

____  Sandra Bullock & Bradley Cooper / ALL ABOUT STEVE 

____  Will Ferrell & Any Co-Star, Creature or “Comic Riff” / LAND OF THE LOST

____  Shia LeBouf & EITHER Megan Fox OR AnyTransformer / TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

__x__  Kristin Stewart & EITHER Robert Pattinson OR Taylor Whatz-His-Fang,TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON 

WORST SCREENPLAY of 2009

____ALLABOUT STEVE, Screenplayby Kim Barker

____  G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, Screenplay by Stuart Beattieand David Elliot & Paul Lovett,

               Based on Hasbro’s G.I. JOE® Characters.           

__x__  LAND OF THE LOST, Written by Chris Henchy& Dennis McNicholas,

               Based on Sid & Marty Krofft’sTV Series

____  TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, Written by Ehren Kruger & Roberto Orci

               & Alex Kurtzman, Based on Hasbro’s TransformersAction Figures 

____TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON, Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, Based on the Novel by Stephenie Meyer  

WORST PREQUEL, REMAKE,RIP-OFF or SEQUEL 

____  G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

__x__  LAND OF THE LOST            

____  PINK PANTHER 2 (A Rip-Off of a Sequel to a Remake)

____TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

____TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON                                             

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR

____  Billy Ray Cyrus / HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE

____  Hugh Heffner (as Himself) MISS MARCH

__x__  Robert Pattinson / TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON

____  Jorma Taccone (as Cha-Ka) LAND OF THE LOST     

____  Marlon Wayans / G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA 

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

__x__  Candice Bergen / BRIDE WARS 

____  Ali Larter / OBSESSED 

____  Sienna Miller / G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

____  Kelly Preston / OLD DOGS 
____  Julie White (as Mom) TRANNIES, TOO

WORST DIRECTOR of 2009 

____  Michael Bay / TRANNIES, TOO

____  Walt Becker / OLD DOGS 

__x__  Brad Silberling / LAND OF THE LOST

____  Stephen Sommers / G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA

____  Phil Traill / ALL ABOUT STEVE

WORST ACTRESS of 2009  

____  Beyonce / OBSESSED

__x__  Sandra Bullock / ALL ABOUT STEVE                                     

____  Mylie Cyrus / HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE

____  Megan Fox / JENNIFER’s BODY and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OFTHE FALLEN 

____  Sarah Jessica Parker / DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? 

WORST ACTOR of 2009 

____  All Three Jonas Brothers /  JONAS BROTHERS 3-D CONCERT EXPERIENCE

__x__  Will Ferrell / LAND OF THE LOST

____  Steve Martin / PINK PANTHER 2

____  Eddie Murphy / IMAGINE THAT

____ John Travolta / OLD DOGS 

WORST PICTURE of 2009

____  ALL ABOUT STEVE

____  G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA 

__x__  LAND OF THE LOST  

____  OLD DOGS 

____  TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN(aka TRANNIES, TOO) 

October 28, 2009

Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’ is a fitting final chapter

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies,Music — pauljlane @ 10:56 am

We’ve all seen Michael Jackson the superstar, MJ the sideshow, MJ the accused felon, MJ the child prodigy, MJ the medical experiment gone wrong and Jacko.Michael Jackson's last show rehearsal at STAPLES Center on June

Who knew that it would take until his early demise for the world to see Jackson’s human side?

“This Is It,” which chronicles the final rehearsals before what was to be Jackson’s farewell concert stint in London this past summer, shows us Michael the person. He had a sense of humor, was a bit of perfectionist when it came to his work and had a better understanding of music than he was probably ever given credit for.

Sure, the film gives fans what they want: extended cuts of hits like “Thriller,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Beat It.” But you also get Michael chewing out a bass player for lackadaisical musicianship, encouraging his guitar player to completely put herself out there on stage and getting chided by Kenny Ortega (who co-produced the concert and made this film) for playing it safe with his voice.

We’ve become so saturated with imitations and satirical takes on Jackson that it’s been easy to forget what the real Michael Jackson was about. Yes, he had a high voice, and (as my wife pointed out) his frequent nose jobs caused his glasses to slide down every time he spun. But he was genuine, empathetic and … well … sweet. Whether the world would have thought that way if he didn’t die in late June due to a medication overdose will never be known, unfortunately.

Jackson had more troubles than most third-world countries during his final few years on Earth, but this film indicates that London audiences would have been in for one whopper of a farewell show. He still had his vocal chops, his trend-setting dance moves (which his background dancers simultaneously showered with praise and struggled to master during cutaway segments of them rehearsing) and his command of an audience (nearly every song was interrupted by his suggestion for a pause, extended keyboard run or other bit of flair).

The audience at the preview show I attended was wowed by all of this, with multiple exclamations made throughout the film and a rowdy round of applause offered up at its conclusion. He’s not around to see it, and it’s not in the venue he imagined, but that’s still precisely what Jackson would have wanted. Kudos to Ortega and the film’s other creators for giving him a fitting farewell. GRADE: A-

September 24, 2009

Confession of an occasional chauvenist

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 3:16 pm

I read this afternoon that Barbie is the latest toy to get the movie treatment, as a live-action film based on the doll (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year) is in the works.

My first thought: “How stupid. Who would go see a movie based on a doll?”

But then I realized the answer: Me.

I like the “Transformers” film series. I haven’t seen “G.I. Joe,” but I would see it if given the chance.

So upon further reflection, it seems as though my thought process was based purely on the fact that subject in question this time was a girl’s toy, not a boy’s toy (at least in stereotypical circles).

I have to admit: I’m wrong. I should not think this way. Why shouldn’t the female persuasion of toy-lovers have the same chance for reminiscence as the “Transformers” series gave me and so many other men? Who am I to say in 10 years, when my daughter wants to rent the movie, that it’s “dumb” just because I never played with Barbies?

So go for it, Barbie. I probably won’t watch, but you deserve the same chance Optimus Prime had.

Good luck.

•••

Here is the story from the AP on the subject.

Barbie is the latest toy to get her own Hollywood deal for a live-action movie.
Universal Pictures has acquired the rights for a movie based on the Mattel dolls. The Barbie flick will follow such toy-based hits as the “Transformers” movies and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”
Laurence Mark, whose credits include “Dreamgirls” and “Jerry Maguire,” is producing. Mattel executives Richard Dickson and Rob Hudnut will be executive producers.
Universal has released animated Barbie movies on home video, but this will be Barbie’s first live-action adventure.

September 3, 2009

Seth Rogen as a superhero? Why not?

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 2:15 pm

The following from Allied Advertising announces that filming has started on “The Green Hornet,” the comic-inspired film written by and starring Seth Rogen.

The star of “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express” does well as an everyman roustabout, but can Rogen pull off this contrast in starring roles? As long as he does better than Ben Affleck in “Daredevil,” he’ll be fine.

•••

A classic character of film, television, radio and comic books returns to the big screen in Columbia Pictures’ feature film The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen (Superbad, Knocked Up) as the vigilante crime-fighter.  Production is underway on the Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) helmed film, which is produced by Neal H. Moritz (I Am Legend, The Fast and the Furious) and executive produced by Michael Grillo (The Accidental Tourist), Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express), Ori Marmur (Evan Almighty) and George W. Trendle, Jr.  The screenplay is by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, based upon “The Green Hornet” radio series created by George W. Trendle and shoots entirely in Los Angeles.  The film is set for release December 17, 2010.

In addition to Rogen, the film also stars Taiwanese actor-pop star Jay Chou as Kato, Cameron Diaz (Charlie’s Angels, What Happens in Vegas), Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica”), David Harbour (Revolutionary Road) and Tom Wilkinson (Valkyrie).  Nicolas Cage is also in negotiations to appear in the film.

Academy Award®-nominee John Schwartzman (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) is the director of photography.  Production designer is Owen Paterson (The Matrix Revolutions), Kym Barrett (Speed Racer) serves as costume designer and Michael Tronick (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) is editing.

August 13, 2009

Disney’s a big-time recycler – of itself

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 12:46 pm

My wife brought this to my attentio: It seems as though Disney really, REALLY loves the dance moves it first created.

I found a couple Youtube clips that show many of Disney’s films using the same dance sequences in its different films. Perhaps hiring a new cartoon choreographer is too pricey?

Does it matter? Not really. But it is interesting once it’s brought to your attention.

July 2, 2009

‘Robogeisha’ is wildest, most effective movie trailer EVER

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 9:23 am

I came across a trailer this morning for the Japanese film “Robogeisha.” I’d try to describe it, but I can’t do this trailer justice. Let’s just say it involves geisha tanks, tengu milk, bleeding buildings and fried shrimp utilized as a deadly weapon.
I don’t know if this film will ever come to the United States, but if it does I have that evening booked. If this is the trailer, I simply MUST know how the entire film plays out. It’s so disturbing, yet so fascinating. I’m thoroughly terrified, yet I can’t help but feel as though my life is better in some small way for having seen this. The dichotomy is striking.

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June 23, 2009

‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ good enough to be worth hype

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 11:47 am

So going into “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” you know there will be plenty of giant robot fights, explosions and rapid-firing guns.

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime

But the big question heading into this sequel is: Can it possibly live up to the hype that’s been building since the original film came out two years ago?

Simply put: Yes.

Aside from the action – which was pretty sweet, even if it once again was hard sometimes to make out whether the robots were Autobots or Decepticons – there was the same downplayed humor throughout the film that made the first one such a delight (well, a delight in an “action film” sense, anyway). There also were a couple pretty crazy plot twists, but your disbelief needs to be pretty well suspended before you even enter the theater showing a film about talking alien robots, so the jump isn’t that hard to make if you’re a fan.

All of the humans from the original film return, with “Fallen” following Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) as he prepares for college – arranging to keep his long-distance relationship with girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) in the process. He only has a couple days to enjoy school, though, as the Autobots soon seek him out to assist in their efforts to fend off an attack from rejuvenated Decepticon forces.

Wanting to lead a normal life, Witwicky declines Optimus Prime’s offer, only to discover soon after that the enemy is already on his trail (seeing a human transform into a killer cyborg was one of the many superb effects rolled out for this film). Soon, Sam and Mikaela are on the run from the Decepticons, who under the leadership of a general who didn’t appear in the first film (as well as the guidance of a revived Megatron) want to steal the sun’s energy to create a new means to generate new life forms of their race.

The federal government, meanwhile, shuts down the unit that had seen the Autobots working with the military to hunt down rogue Decepticons left on Earth, which forces Capt. Lennoz (Josh Duhamel) to defy orders and lead his troops on a mission to Egypt, where the Sun Harvester machine that could destroy the planet has been hidden for centuries amidst the pyramids.

The toy franchise had countless robots upon which to draw for this film, and the filmmakers failed to disappoint with their selections. As soon as you saw the characters walk past a green dump truck, you just knew that Devastator was about to make an appearance. Soundwave is also here (albeit not in the tape deck form many fans are familiar with), as is his jungle cat minion Rampage, the Autobot motorcycle trio Arcee and Autobot Sideswipe.

As in the first film, Sam’s scenes with his parents provided some slightly uncomfortable comic relief (including his mother unwittingly eating a pot brownie). The Autobot twins Mudflap and Skids, meanwhile, offered non-stop laughs as Sam’s street-talking companions, using various PG-13 slang phrases to taunt their much larger adversaries and each other.

While it’s good to see John Turtorro’s Simmons (the federal agent from the first film) return, how he comes to be uncovered was a bit preposterous (as covered above, though, just a BIT preposterous). The editors did a great job, though, with mixing in topical elements, such as referring to the president by name and throwing in some swine flu humor. While the film nears 2 1/2 hours of running time, there’s enough going on to keep your interest throughout – as well as a convenient out to transition into “Transformers 3.”

Is this film going to receive serious consideration from the Academy? Heck no. But it’s not supposed to. It’s a summer release that knows its role – blow things up, lots of action, a pinch of romance – and performs it to perfection. “Fallen” at least matched its predecessor, if not exceeding it, and – while not offering more than meets the eye – is as satisfying as mindless summer action can get.

GRADE: B

June 17, 2009

Excellent ‘Up’ shows no signs of dropping

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 4:05 pm

We took Penny last weekend to see “Up,” the latest Pixar animated film about a man pixar_upwho uses hundreds of balloons to float his house to South America to fulfill his wife’s lifelong wish.

Aside from seeing Penny love the film (and love the movie-going experience in general – she kept asking to go to the “moonies” for days after the viewing), we saw a  darn good film. Pixar always puts out a good product, but “Up” was, as my wife put it, one of the saddest films ever (I’d choose a word like sentimental instead of sad, but the idea still applies).

Indeed it was sad in many ways, and in that fashion it was definitely directed as much to adults as children. And viewers of all ages have continued to turn out, as the film earned $30.8 million last weekend and earned $187.4 million in its first 17 days of release, according to Box Office Guru. It could end up being the top-grossing film of the entire year.

“Up” has joined rare air, as it and “Shrek 2” are now the only two films to have earned more than $30 million in each of their first three weekends, Box Office Guru reported. Word of mouth and critical response have helped “Up” retain its lofty ticket sales, and all of the praise is warranted. This might not have been the best of the computer-animated film lot, but it was pretty good.

Box Office Mojo and many other analysts project “Up” to surpass the $300 million mark, which among animated films would rank it only behind “Shrek 2” ($436.5 million, No. 4 all-time), “Finding Nemo ($339.7 million, No. 15 all-time), “The Lion King” ($328.5 million, No. 18 all-time)  and “Shred the Third” ($320.7 million, No. 19 all-time) on the all-time box office earnings chart, according to numbers from Box Office at Hollywood.com.

In terms of quality, I would put “Monsters Inc.,” “WALL-E” and the original “Shrek” above “Up,” but that should in no way diminish the film’s superior quality. It will likely end up among the summer’s best offerings – both in earnings and quality – and deserves any praise it gets.

As Hollywood.com’s Paul Dergarabedian put it, “How amazing is this idea” ‘Ed Asner, box office star,’ ” speaking about the voice of the lead character. That, along with last year’s nearly voiceless “WALL-E,” proves once again that good animation and a great story will outlast star power any day of the week.

Now where’d I put those “Toy Story” DVDs?

June 1, 2009

Books to film: What’s the attraction?

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies,Television — pauljlane @ 2:32 pm

I caught a few snippets of MTV’s movie awards Sunday night. Not a bad show, but the world seemed to come to a halt when the “Twilight” stars (the Barbie dolls who were ever-present on stage accepting the awards the 12-year-old girls voted upon them) introduced the trailer to the second film in the franchise, “New Moon.”

Judging by audience reaction that night, and by the subsequent Facebook and Internet chatter in the nearly 24 hours since, this is apparently a big deal.

I’m not sure why.

What follows isn’t meant to be a slap in the face to the people who might be categorized by these words. Rather, it’s a genuine inquisition into a phenomenon with which I’m not completely familiar.

Now, the “Twilight” series, which was first a series of books by Stephenie Meyer, has been the hit of the best-seller list for some time now. it would seem taht most, if not all, of the people who go see the films already read the book.

So if you know what’s going to happen, pretty much word for word, why get so worked up about it?

I asked a co-worker who has read and seen all of the available books and films in the “Harry Potter” series, which would definitely also qualify. She said that a big part of it is just seeing what you read about on screen, comparing your mental image of the actions that were writtena bout with the director’s vision of the text. She also said that enjoying the books is key, because she didn’t like the book “Twilight” and therefore has no interest in the film series.

Her main point is valid, but I would much rather go see a film that will be a surprise than be one of “those people” who will nitpick the differences between the book and the adaptation (these people are invariably the same ones who will say “the book was better” if, for no other reason, than to seem smart by indirectly saying they read a book).

From where I sit, the best book-to-film adaptations are those pertaining to books no one ever heard of (“The Shawshank Redemption” was a Stephen King short story) or a classic book given the classic treatment (“To Kill a Mockingbird”). For every “The Godfather,” there seems to be at least five “The Cat in the Hat” films that forever taint the book’s good name and/or severely, painfully distort the source material.

In other words, it seems as though fans of the books mostly set themselves up for disappointment.

Of course, it’s possible to appreciate books and films on different levels, and to like one while hating the other. But franchises such as “Twilight” seem to depend upon the link between the two media to maximize revenue, which has certainly been accomplished.

Nothing will keep “New Moon” from rising. I just hope, for you fans, that your expectations don’t rise to Icarian heights.

“New Moon” is slated for a Nov. 20 release; the latest “Potter” book to become a film, “Half-Blood Prince,” will be released July 15, with the final book “Deathly Hallows” being made into two films that will from Nov. 19, 2010, and July 15, 2011, respectively.

•••

Here, if you care, is the “New Moon” trailer. I do, for the record, take issue with the franchise referring to itself as the “twilight saga” – the definition of saga is “a long story of heroic achievement,” according to the dictionary, and while some girls may like “Twilight” it is by no means heroic achievement.

April 30, 2009

‘Happy Hooker’ documentary not what one might expect

Filed under: Entertainment,Movies — pauljlane @ 2:33 pm

As far as artistic inspiration go, Xaviera Hollander presents about as broad and vibrant a muse as can be had.
The legendary call girl-turned-author could fill 50 films with her X-rated exploits alone, but documentarian Robert Dunlap chose not to focus solely on that part of her life.
That’s not to say that “Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary” lacks for ribaldry, but as far as films about the author of the largely autobiographical best-seller “The Happy Hooker” go, this is about as sterile as the subject matter could be treated.
With Hollander narrating the 68-minute film, which will be shown during the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, the documentary goes all the way back to her infancy, which was spent in a Japanese concentration camp in southeast Asia (she and her family are of Jewish heritage).
After the war, the family returned to Holland, where she grew up (kinda) normally. She claimed the “Miss Tick” prize as Holland’s best secretary, then made her way to New York City, where she took a secretarial job that failed to offer much fulfillment.
Instead, as the title of her first book suggests, she took an unorthodox route to happiness. The film uses commentary from several of today’s leading experts and writers in the field to discuss the impact of “Happy Hooker” and the dozens of follow-up books (both fiction and fact) that came from Hollander.
Where such a field was considered beyond taboo in those days (her lawyer recalled his experiences negotiating his “first book deal in a … house of ill repute”), her work was considered a key part of the feminist movement that opened people’s minds on the subject.
The film takes the viewer up to present day, with Hollander happily pursuing her artistic endeavors back in the Netherlands — receiving inspiration the same way she inspired so many others during her life.
To be clear: This film is not for youngsters, due to subject matter and some of the imagery presented. But it’s the film’s inspiration that dictates the use of such material, and Dunlap does a masterful job of avoiding gratuitous footage or soundbites when it would have been ever-so-easy to go that way.
Whatever one might think about Hollander or her career choice, viewers of this film will leave the experience feeling as far away from dirty as possible.

IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Screening of “Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary”
• WHEN: 9 p.m. May 7
• WHERE: Market Arcade Film & Arts Center, Main Street, Buffalo
• MORE INFORMATION: Visit buffaloniagarafilmfestival.com

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