Posts Tagged ‘movies


Here Comes The Bleh

Here Comes The Boom, the school teacher turned MMA fighter flick starring Kevin James, hits theaters tomorrow. After reading reviews and starring blankly at the trailer for 2 and a half minutes, I realized the question here is not if America is ready for such a movie, but if America even needs such a movie?

The answer is no, definitely not.

Sure, Here Comes The Boom looks like a pleasant little film. Director Frank Coraci looks to take on the serious issue of under funding in American public schools in a light-hearted manner. But if there is one thing I know, it’s what makes a movie suck. And I don’t have to see this movie to know it’s packed full of it.

Boom’s title is vaguely similar to “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which is one strike against it already.

The first thing I noticed about Boom’s trailer was how incredibly toned and muscular star Kevin James has become. The lead-actor-undergoing-a-huge-physical-transformation-for-their-role tactic is an old Hollywood trick used to garner buzz (Charlize Theron in Monster, Christian Bale in The Machinist, etc.). Perhaps the filmmakers wanted viewers to be amazed by James’ transformation from portly actor to ripped UFC fighter (when, in reality, James was an avid wrestler in college and has practiced karate since he was young).

Then there’s the problem with Boom’s plot. This is certainly not the first let’s hatch a zany plot to save and inspire our school movie ever made, and not even the first to come out in the past month. Won’t Back Down, a film portraying two mothers’ attempts at rescuing a failing inner city school, itself failed spectacularly at the box office. So spectacularly, in fact, that it had the worst opening weekend for any film playing on over 2,500 theaters. Basically, if Won’t Back Down’s creators tried to do in reality what their fictional characters did, children across America would be standing naked and hungry in the street, with horse flies nibbling at their faces.

Here’s a visual depiction of that previous sentence, minus the nudity and horse flies.

But perhaps Boom will fare better. It does, of course, feature Kevin James getting injured in all sorts of whacky situations. But none of this can save the movie because James’ career is already over. Judging by his latest string of films, the actor is officially suffering from Rob Schneider Syndrome, the endless Hollywood mire of being typecast as a whacky, prat-falling actor. Look at what South Park’s legendary “Derp de derp” video did to Schneider’s career. And South Park’s season 15 jab at Zookeeper likely served as the death knell for James’ career as well.

Kevin James, this is what you have to look forward to.


Why Hollywood will turn the Batman shootings into a night at the movies

Murder suspect James Holmes was charged with 24 counts of murder on Monday for his alleged role in the Aurora, Co. massacre.   Though the charges are satisfying to many, several debates still surround this case.  Whether prosecutors should pursue the death penalty is to be decided, and a deeply entrenched debate regarding gun control has dominated the media since the shooting occurred on July 20.

While America searches for answers, an even more difficult question has recently crossed my mind: how many years will have to pass before Hollywood turns the Aurora massacre into a major motion picture?

Somewhere, Quentin Tarantino lets out a sigh and mutters to himself “Did that.”

That question (and the above picture) may seem insensitive, and that’s because they both certainly are.  But one must step back and look at Hollywood’s long track record of capitalizing from real-life tragedies before jumping at my throat for making these observations.

The early days of cinema were practically fueled by movies depicting events based on real tragedy and suffering.  The Birth of a Nation, arguably Hollywood’s first and most important blockbuster, was essentially a film that depicted newly-freed slaves as unstoppable rapists, while America’s only white knights came in the form of the Ku Klux Klan (Pun).  Was it wrong for Hollywood to portray a violent, bigoted group like the KKK as heroes in a time that real-life African American citizens were being assaulted and murdered by said group?  Probably.  Regardless, the 1915 film earned $10 million upon its release, which is like a gazillion dollars in today’s money, and totally reshaped the way storytelling was done in film.

From there, basically every movie released for the next 30 years showcased American wars or the Wild West.  Massacres, racism, slavery and genocide were box office gold.  Western films made light of Native American genocide, and battles from the American Civil War, WWI and WWII provided endless motion picture fodder, despite the millions who actually died those horrible deaths.

Another brave soldier sacrifices his life for a John Wayne film.

Don’t get me wrong; I love a good war movie.  There are many tasteful war movies that depict the fighting solemnly and hold reverence for those who died.  But just as Hollywood got good at that, disaster films hit the scene in the 70’s, a genre often guilty of exploiting actual disasters.  From there it was a complete cinematic smash and grab.  Film producers latched onto any subject so long as it had audience drawing potential, despite the risk of offending real-life victims.

Here are some films from the past 20 years that turned harrowing real-life events into box office bucks:

Films based on actual serial killers are popular (Zodiac, B.T.K., The Black Dahlia, Monster, From Hell, Dahmer, Ted Bundy, etc.), and so are ones depicting tragic national events (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, Philadelphia, Titanic, Munich, Bloody Sunday, Chernobyl Diaries, etc.)  Thirty Minutes or Less received criticism for its apparent similarity to a failed bank robbery that occurred in Erie, Pa. in 2003, and a film depicting the Oklahoma City Bombing is currently in production.  Hell, Hollywood portrays tragic events that haven’t even happened yet (Day After Tomorrow, any of the shitty 2012 doomsday movies, etc.)

Then there was the holy grail of Hollywood middle fingers in the face of victims and their families: United 93 and World Trade Center.  Though I was still young when these movies came out, I was mature enough to know that no film could ever match the horror many Americans experienced while watching the events live on TV.  Did we really need a dramatized rendition of an event that happened only five years prior?  Were those earth shaking moments not vivid enough in our minds that we needed two films to remind us of the senseless tragedy?

The mustache of a thousand Nic Cages couldn’t fill the void left in America’s heart.

I recently read an article about how internet memes have gone too far by poking fun at the Aurora shootings.  Success Kid, Condescending Wonka and Y U NO are only a few memes that approached the massacre with a calloused and irreverent jab.  A community of bloggers who mimic James Holmes’ traits, known as “Holmies,” is also making headlines.  But this is to be expected on the internet, which is basically run by childish assholes (such as the author of this blog).  So while sweaty bloggers and Reddit frequenters are being condemned for poking fun at tragedy too soon, Hollywood only has to wait a few years before it is acceptable to exploit death and destruction.

So who’s the guiltier party: the insensitive Lulz crew that joked about a massacre too soon, or Hollywood producers who will inevitably profit from the massacre by turning it into a riveting metadrama examining violence, entertainment and Hollywood’s worship of the almighty dollar?  If the latter seems oddly specific, that’s because I am currently working on a script called “Fire in a Theater,” a film loosely based on the Aurora massacre.  Anyone interested in a spec script is urged to contact me via telegraph.


The Dark Knight Rises: A mediocre review

Like many people, I saw “The Dark Knight” and thought it (and by “it” I mean Heath Ledger) was awesome.  So I skipped out on some sleep Thursday night in favor of experiencing the greatest cinematic event in recent memory, the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

OK, I must make note of one fact before continuing with this review.  There is something about Mr. Nolan’s movies that automatically lose my attention.  The preachy monologues, constant scene shifts, overbearing score, insane attention to plot details…  Watching movies like the Batman series, The Prestige and Inception are so cluttered and overstimulating to me that paying attention for the entire film is a downright task.

For those too lazy to go see the film: picture people looking worried for 164 minutes

Films like this usually trigger my ADHD, and the Dark Knight Rises was no exception.  My mind began to wonder at about the time Bruce Wayne decides to come out of retirement, which undoubtedly costed me some vital plots points.  But fuck it: this is the mediocre review, and the shit that goes on in my brain is far more interesting than discussing Alfred’s weird man-crush on a dude that dresses up as a bat for shits and giggles.

38 minutes and 43 seconds in:

I began to think about names for my future son, and concluded that Vincent would make a pretty badass kid.  Vincent is a masculine name; no 8 year old punk will mess with my boy Vincent in the school yard.  But what about Victor?  Vic has a nice ring to it and still sounds badass.  People would call Vincent Vinny, and I don’t like that – too stereotypical pizza slinger.  Or would they mostly call him Vince if he specified it upon meeting new acquaintances?  Should I avoid all this muddle and name him Vic instead?  Hmmm… How about Vincenzo?  This dilemma continues in my brain for nearly 5 minutes.

53 minutes and 19 seconds in:

Someone two rows away pulls out their phone and its bright screen catches my attention.  This careless patron reminded me of a blog I read about a journalist who used his iPad screen to illuminate the face of an inconsiderate texter during a movie.  What balls that guy had.  Would I have done something that clever?  Probably not.  I would have most likely shifted around and grumbled under my breath…  But who the hell brings an iPad to a movie theater?  Who the hell can afford an iPad?  Or even needs one?  You know what, fuck that pretentious, sport jacking wearing journalist for even blogging about his passive-aggressive victories in the first place!  This mind-rant lasted a few minutes as Batman got his ass stomped by Bane.

1 Hour, 40 minutes and 53 seconds:

I begin to fall asleep.  My head slumps to the side and startles me awake.  I guiltily look around the theater hoping to find other sleeping patrons, but everyone is wide awake.  How can that be – it’s almost 2 in the morning, for balls’ sake!  And this dark theater is killing me.  What is it about a dark room combined with a glowing screen that puts me right to sleep?  Maybe that’s why moths fly towards light bulbs at night.  There’s something comforting about that warm, radiant glow…  Maybe I should pull a Strange Brew  and unleash a jar of moths into the theater so I can get a refund for this shitty movie…  Ahh Strange Brew… What ever happened to Rick Moranis….??

My last thought before drifting back to sleep

Approx. 2 hours and 25 minutes in:

A loud explosion wakes me up.  I had slept through a sizable chunk of the movie and Gotham City had fallen into complete chaos at this point.  So I sat expressionless as the epic climax to the batman series drew to a close, and a few people in the theater clapped while the others sauntered to the exit.  As I walk down the lighted staircase, I begin to ask myself what other product would I pay $12 for and get so little use of out of, choosing to sleep instead enjoying my purchase?  Is that why Hollywood is showing decline?  Are idiots like me choosing to save their money by watching movies at home, at their own leisure?  But more importantly, it was at this moment, walking out of the theater and thinking about my thinner wallet, that I realized I probably need medication to manage my attention deficit.

I give Nolan’s final installment of the Dark Knight series a B-


Super-8 attempt = colossal failure

Alfred Hitchcock once said “Anyone can make a Hollywood film.”  Well I’d like to say he was full of shit.

...but not everyone can eat five newborn puppies.

The story goes like this: Me and some friends ventured to NYC a few weeks ago to watch the St. Patty’s Day Parade, and what better place to shoot some super-8 film than the Big Apple?  You know, Gotham!  The City That Never Sleeps!  The town Woody Allen said ” existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.”  Let’s skip the same ole puttering around in Blandtown, USA and go shoot some super-8 film in the Capital of the World!  So I grabbed two rolls of black and white film and set out to film some scenes of the big city.  (For the other blogs of this series, check here and here.)

Welp, things went downhill right about the instant I tried shooting the film.  I got roughly 13 seconds of salvageable footage before the camera came churning to a halt.  I figured the batteries had died so I tried new ones but still no luck.  Then I proceeded to get really pissed off.  The thing worked fine up to the moment I get into the city, and yet it breaks now?  Seriously??  And it’s not like I can troubleshoot the damn thing – it was made in 1973 and I bought it from Goodwill.

At least we got front row seats to the parade.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s wrong with the camera or if it’s even reparable.  If the camera’s junk, I still may try to get those 13 seconds i shot of the parade developed to make the most bitchin’ 13 second film in cinematic history.  (Note: I’m fairly certain a few of those 13 seconds are of Cherby’s crotch, taken as I tried to change the batteries.)

For fans of pie shaped things, here’s a chart summarizing the current costs of my stalled short film project:

I’m still trying to decided whether the $150 and the gigantic pain in my ass that this super-8 project has caused still beats chipping out $1,500 for a decent digital camcorder.  Expect some new blogs once my soul searching is complete.

A lot more money, yet a lot less ass pain...


Updated super-8 project

As an update to my earlier post, my roll of Kodak super-8 film arrived today and I am pleased to say everything works fine – the film is brand new and functional, the camera has yet to be knocked off my coffee table by drunken house guests, and the UPS man didn’t spit in my face then shank me in the kidneys as he usually does.

"Mall Cop" royalties just aren't paying the bills anymore.

Anyhow, I’m amazed super-8 film is still being produced out there.  A lot of the film I looked at on eBay was outdated and/or kept in the seller’s freezer to keep it in “new” condition.  But my cartridge came brand new from Kodak, even sealed in a foil wrapper that released a satisfying new-car smell when I ripped it open.  Despite Kodak’s financial troubles, they apparently aren’t bankrupt enough to stop selling terribly archaic pieces of film equipment.

Kodak + Super-8 film = bankruptcy?

I have some local spots planned out for this film that should look great in black and white.  All I need now is a simple script and an actor for my film.  What I need isan everyman: a downtrodden human whose plight and heartwarming story would be perfect for a avant-garde short film…

Nope, he's dead...

Him too...

Ah hell, this guy will work.


My super super-8 project

While browsing my local Goodwill store I came across a Bell and Howell Focus Matic Super 8 camera.  It looked in good shape so I bought the bastard for 4 U.S. dollars.  I plugged in some AAA batteries and much to my amazement the camera still works (anyone who’s ever browsed the electronics section of Goodwill knows that the “As Is” tag is a sure sign of junk).  It looks like I got lucky on this buy: everything works even though the camera dates back to 1974.

Harmless video camera...

... or futuristic space weapon??

Next came the challenge of finding some working super 8 film, and much to my further amazement, there are still companies out there producing it.  The now bankrupt Kodak offers a decent line of super 8 film, including negative and reversal, Ektachrome, and black and white.  I want a noir feel to my planned short film, so I ordered a cartridge of Kodak’s Tri-X B&W Reversal for $15 on Amazon.

This short film project has me excited, but there are a few factors that could become a future pain-in-the-ass.  For instance, a 50′ cartridge of super 8 film only produces about 2 and a half minutes of footage.  That’s not much to work with.  Then comes the challenge of converting and editing the fucker.  I (and I’m guessing the rest of the modern world) don’t have access to equipment for editing traditional film.  So I’ve been looking up some companies online that specialize in developing film and transferring it to digital.  This site looks promising and has reasonable pricing.  Once I’m done experimenting with the first cartridge I’ll give them a call and see what kind of deal I can strike.

In the meantime, I’ve been looking up some super 8 videos on Youtube and found some great work done by fellow film enthusiasts. Reading the comment sections has been a great help to me during this project.  This video makes great use of B&W film and music:

And here’s some super 8 footage of NYC taken about two years ago.  What an awesome vintage look:

Stay tuned for future developments!

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