• Tag Archives reviews
  • [Article 134]Matt watched My Name is Bruce!

    Like most nerds, I am a Bruce Campbell fan. I have watched the shit out of some Evil Dead trilogy. That said, I do find the over the top worship of Bruce Campbell by some fans tiresome. The dude has been in some really fun movies, I think he’s a better actor than he gets credit for, but he’s not some geek messiah. That opinion is what has kept this movie in my Netflix instant queue for a long time. I thought it might be a fun flick, but I didn’t know if I wanted to watch an hour and a half of Bruce Campbell hero worship. Anyway, I finally got to it.

    The plot: A couple of douchey teenage punks drive to a graveyard to meet a couple of slutty goth chicks. One douchey punk belittles the other for his love of Bruce Campbell movies along the way. The teens pair off at the graveyard, and eventually unleash a demon. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Bruce Campbell is filming a crappy movie. He talks to his agent, and complains about his career. His agent, as played by Ted Raimi, assures him he has something special in store for him for his birthday. Through a series of contrived plot devices, the douchey punk fan’s request for help from Bruce is interpreted as a movie offer by the star, and he shows up in town to fight the demon. What the town finds out rather quickly is that Bruce is much more interested in womanizing and drinking than being a hero, much less an actor. Eventually, Bruce figures out that the demon is real, and has to decide if he wants to be the man he is, or the man he pretends to be. Hilarity ensues.

    In a nutshell, this one was ok as a movie to watch for free on Netflix. (I know, I know, technically it’s not free I’m paying a monthly fee for it, but I watch enough movies each month that it’s as good as.) The film seems to have tried to make a small budget seem intentional by drawing attention to some of its shortcomings, most notably over the top foley work. Bruce Campbell plays himself as a slightly less likeable Ash, which kinda makes it hard to care about him as our protagonist. There are references aplenty, and some genuinely funny moments, but overall, this seems like a decent attempt at what might have been a good idea. Perhaps another rewrite, one which made Bruce seem as engaging as he has been in the movies that made him famous, would have made this a cult classic.

    Check out the trailer:



  • [Article 158]Matt watched Waiting for Guffman!

    I know it seems like I watch a lot of movies and therefore write a lot of these entries, but I actually watch more, I just don’t have time to blog them all. Yeah, I’m surprised I’m married too.

    The plot: The small Missouri town of Blaine is celebrating it’s sesquicentennial. (I just wanna point out that I’m really surprised I spelled sesquicentennial right without spell check. Go me!) In addition to the usual parades and what not the Blaine community theater will be performing a production of Red, White & Blaine, an original musical written by local high school drama teacher Corky St. Claire, (Christopher Guest.) who appears to be flamboyantly gay though he maintains he has a wife. The cast is created through open auditions, which includes travel agents Ron and Sheila Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara, respectively) local dentist Dr. Alan Pearl (Eugene Levy) and Dairy Queen employee Libby Mae Brown. (Parker Posey) A couple of other actors are hand picked from the townspeople by Corky based on his specific artistic visions. After assembling his cast Corky begins rehearsals, and sends out requests to his old theater connections in New York, hoping to get a write up. One of them, Mort Guffman, agrees to view the show, Corky is elated and quickly realizes that his show will need a larger budget than he was originally granted. He petitions the city council for $100,000, which is denied as the whole civic budget is a mere $15,000 for the entire year. Corky quits the show in frustration, and his musical director Lloyd Miller is given directorial duties. The cast rebels and along with the city council members convince Corky to return. On the night of the show, a seat is reserved for Guffman, and Corky is forced to step into one of the roles due to a cast member backing out at the last minute. Hilarity ensues.

    Like many people I first saw Christopher Guest in This is Spinal Tap, which was a film in a similar style to Waiting for Guffman. Both movies, along with Guest’s later films Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, feature a strong cast of character actors and improvised dialogue. I love this style of movie, though I will say I enjoyed Spinal Tap, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind more. This is only Guest’s second directorial effort, so this can be forgiven. I don’t want to make it sound like this is a bad movie, it’s not, it’s just less polished than his later works, as you might expect.

    I fucking love Eugene Levy and Fred Willard. Therefore, any time either one of them is on screen is pure magic. (Speaking of Fred Willard, you should check out his appearance on The Nerdist podcast here.) Catherine O’Hara comes in as a close second for Teh Awesome, with Parker Posey taking the bronze in this event.

    Something I mentioned to Porter (who was watching the movie with me) was that while this movie flirts with putting hapless folks into uncomfortable situations, it never goes into Meet the Parents territory. For me, Meet the Parents is the perfect example of the current school of “comedies” which seem to derive their humor solely from putting people into situations that are so awkward or embarrassing that you are surprised they don’t commit suicide. I HATE movies like that, presumably because I cannot help but feel the discomfort or embarrassment of the character on screen, and no part of that is fun for me. This movie simply puts eccentric characters, who are completely oblivious of their eccentricities, in front of the camera and lets them be themselves. I dig it.

    The play, which we watch at the end of the film, is surprisingly competent. I found myself rather impressed. It’s not good by any means, but it wasn’t the trainwreck I thought it would be. Meh, check it out for yourself.

    Check out the trailer here.



  • [Article 159]Matt watched Office Space!

    Actually Matt watched Office Space a couple days ago, but he’s been busy. Sorry.

    The plot: Frustrated wage ape Peter Gibbons hates his job at cubicle farm Initech. Peter and his buddies Samir and Michael Bolton (no relation) lament their fates while Peter also pines for local waitress Joanna. One Friday after work Peter’s bitchy girlfriend takes him to a hypnotherapist to attempt to bring him to terms with his job. While under hypnosis, and in a state of supreme relaxation, Peter’s hypnotherapist suffers a fatal heart attack. Peter, in a state of complete calm despite the panic of the others in the room, spends the day in bed. This presents a problem for Peter as his boss, Bill Lumbergh had informed Peter that he would be required to work both Saturday and Sunday. Peter’s new relaxed outlook makes neither this, nor his girlfriend dumping him a problem. Peter proceeds to fail upwards at work despite the presence of two efficiency experts named Bob laying off many of his coworkers, including Samir and Michael. Peter convinces his two soon-to-be-jobless friends to program and install a virus in the company financial software that will gradually accrue money in an account for the three of them. It’s like the plot of Superman 3. Also, there’s a weird guy in the office named Milton, and hilarity ensues.

    Ok, this is an old one. (To be fair, I shouldn’t feel bad about it I just reviewed Conan.) Most of you have prolly seen this one. If not, run, don’t walk, and see it. That prolly gives you an idea of how much I enjoy this movie. A relative box office failure, this movie caught on as a rental and VHS/DVD purchase. This is Mike Judge’s first live action feature, which was prolly what turned me off from it when I first heard of it, as I am not a Beavis and Butthead fan. Fortunately, this movie is not retarded.

    In fact, some viewers may find that this movie moves too slowly for their tastes. The movie is filled with jokes, but they are quiet jokes, you never see an actor really leaning on a punchline. I’d say it’s more like a Christopher Guest movie in style.

    The big question is, “Will I find this funny even if I have never had a shitty office job?” I say yes. I’m not smart enough or educated enough to get an office job, but I still loved this movie. I think it taps into the archetypes that we can relate to if not as coworkers, then as customers at places like banks, post offices and the DMV.

    Check out the trailer here.



  • [Article 160]Matt watched Conan the Barbarian!

    I had never actually seen this movie before the other night. I knew of it certainly, and had even quoted, “Conan! What is best in life?!?!” many times, but I just never got around to watching it until now.

    The plot: ‘Lil Conan is shown being instructed in the ways of the world by his father, until one day, a band of men arrive in their village and slaughter everyone except Conan and a few other children. Conan and the rest are sold into slavery, where they are used to push a large mill, Conan is eventually forced into becoming a pit fighter for the entertainment of his captors. After many victories, Conan is released and sets out into the world to find his fate. He befriends a thief named Subotai and while breaking into a temple of a powerful snake cult, they meet and befriend Valeria, whom Conan is quick to have sex with after their heist. Word of their bold escapade spreads and the three of them are recruited to infiltrate the main stronghold of the snake cult in order to rescue the daughter of a king who has fallen to the cult’s influence. Along the way Conan figures out the cult is led by the same men who killed his father and the rest of his village. The trio eventually ends up inside the inner sanctum of the cult, where the attempt to free the captured princess. Sword fights and hilarity ensue.

    Ok, this isn’t exactly a great movie. It features a lot of Arnold Schwarzenegger standing around looking grim. Then again, when he is standing around looking grim, he isn’t speaking, so we have that to be thankful for.

    Upsides:
    Conan punches a camel for no apparent reason.
    All practical special effects.
    James Earl Jones turns into a snake.

    Downsides:
    Arnold Schwarzenegger is boring to watch.
    Nothing happens for large stretches at a time.
    James Earl Jones doesn’t do anything cool as a snake.

    I enjoyed this movie well enough as a Netflix rental, and I have the next two Conan movies in my queue. We’ll see how I feel after watching the others.



  • [Article 163]Matt watched The Human Centipede: First Sequence!

    Yeah, so . . . those of you who have heard of this one already are prolly a little worried about where this is going to go. This is prolly fair. I will say that my experience watching this movie and the uncomfortable parts for me were prolly not the same parts most other viewers found uncomfortable. Look, lemme just get the plot summary out of the way and I’ll explain.

    The plot: A couple of hapless female tourists on a trip through Germany, break down in their rental car on the way to some club. They decide to hoof it toward help, unfortunately, the house they find belongs to the evil Dr. Heiter (subtle isn’t it?) who is a world renowned surgeon that specialized in separating conjoined twins. Apparently, Doc is getting a little weird after all these years and now wants to try to create a conjoined human. There are several times in the movie that reference “his beloved 3 hound”, which was 3 artificially conjoined dogs that the doctor created presumably as a prototype. Dr. Heiter soon has the girls tied to hospital beds in his basement along with Japanese tourist Katsuro. In a bizarre sequence, the doctor explains how he plans to join the three captives ass to mouth with a series of diagrams via overhead projector. The operation is successful and the three become his “Human Centipede”. The doctor then spends time trying to train them to walk in uniform movements and obey him. Eventually two detectives show up and suspect the doctor of involvement with the suspicious disappearance of two American girls, which is mostly due to the doctor acting like a complete idiot in front of the detectives. Things get desperate, and hilarity kind of ensues.

    Ok, so this is a pretty gross movie for mainstream audiences. Many people are turned off just by the premise. I think this movie might qualify for what I call “street cred” movies. Street cred movies are films you can say you have seen when someone else is talking about a movie they think is really fucked up when you want to slap them down. I usually use movies like Cannibal Holocaust, Aftermath or Salo: 120 Days of Sodom for this purpose. I think this one may end up being in that group, or if not, perhaps it’s planned sequel.

    Speaking of movies being fucked up, lemme take a moment to offer a brief aside. I love horror movies, I watch a lot of them, however, I rarely see them in theaters. This is because I have a tendency feel faint and even pass out at the sight of blood on screen. I know, this makes it seem like I should prolly not watch horror movies at all, but I can’t help it, I love them. My solution for the last few years has been to watch them at home, where I can pause the movie if I start to feel woozy, and pick it back up once the feeling passes. It is also worth noting that the average gorefest slasher or zombie movie is not gonna trigger this response from me. It is usually much smaller, more realistic injuries that set me off. Past examples include the scene in The Exorcist where Regan is at the hospital and while drawing blood from her there are a couple spurts onto her sheets, the end of the first Saw movie (I know that one wasn’t so small) and a scene from the movie event Horizon, I can’t remember which exactly. That last example had me leaving the movie to go splash water on my face to try to feel better, and waking up laying on the floor of the bathroom. When I returned to my seat I found I had missed about 20 minutes of the movie. This is why I watch movies at home now.

    All that is a long way to say this movie got me sick too, but it wasn’t for the human centipede, ass to mouth nonsense. In a scene shortly after the girls are captured, one of them manages to release her restraints on the hospital bed and starts to run away, it is only then she realizes she has an IV in her arm as it is ripped out, tearing the flesh of her arm. This got to me and I felt sick for most of the rest of the movie. This freaked my wife out a little, for while I am sure I have mentioned this particular idiosyncracy to my lovely and tolerant wife, this is the first time she has seen it in front of her.

    But I digress. The  movie as a whole was not great. I tend to agree with most of the reviews I have found in thinking that the movie was one interesting idea that someone had, but there was no real story to go along with it. Really, once the surgery is complete, the movie is pretty much just the centipede shambling around moaning and crying. Eh. Despite his unfortunately cliched name, Dr. Heiter is the most interesting person on screen throughout the movie, though his inability to act reasonable even in front of cops makes you wonder how the hell he got as far as he did in life.

    My lovely wife and I have just conferred and we agree that it isn’t a good movie, or even one you should really bother to see just for the hell of it because it is streaming on Netflix. It seems best suited to being a street cred movie for horror buffs to freak out their more mainstream friends.

    -Matt

    Check out the trailer here.



  • [Article 169]Matt watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World!

    I love movies. I watch a lot of them. Unfortunately, work, life, shows, and 2 kids means I only see about 2-4 movies in a theater per year. Most of what I watch is from Netflix or DVD purchases. (Yeah, I’m still using a DVD player, if you think I should have Blu-Ray buy me one.)

    Anyway, I figured I’d start blogging about the movies I’m watching on the site for a couple reasons. One, it will help me remember what I’ve been watching when Salsa asks me, “What you been watching?” each week. Two, it gives me a chance to share cool movies with listeners and get sweet recommendations from them. (Ahem, that means you have to leave recommendations in the comments, yo.) So, on to the first entry:

    I have been excited to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World ever since I first saw the trailer reposted on Riff’s blog Minimum Safe Distance. (Riff is one of the guys who works for Kingdom of Loathing that was not on Episode 4.)

    I realize that may mean I arrived late to the Scott Pilgrim party, but I have no excuse. I had never heard of the comic before the movie trailer. (Though I plan to pick them up now.) I’m definitely a fan of comics in general, but I only read them in trade paperback form, not individual issues, so my exposure to new comics is a slow process. But, I’m digressing too far I think.

    Back to the movie. The trailer hit me the same way a trailer for a Zach Snyder movie does. It’s exciting, it’s visually compelling, and most of all it looks like fun on a bun. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and was prepared to watch Edgar Wright eat a bowl of cereal if that was his next project. I am also a Michael Cera fan, while acknowledging that he is basically the same character in every movie. The good thing is, that was the exact character needed for this movie.

    Now, on to the movie itself. The basic story goes like this: Scott Pilgrim is a slightly douchey loser with a 17 year old girlfriend and a band called the Sex Bob Ombs. While at a party with his bandmates, Scott sees Ramona, the girl he has been dreaming about since catching a glimpse of her at the library while out with his girlfriend Knives. Scott asks around at the party, finds out he can get in touch with Ramona by ordering something from her employer Amazon.ca and does so. Scott starts dating Ramona without breaking up with Knives. Neither girl is aware of the other until the Sex Bob Ombs play the first round of a battle of the bands competition and the first of Ramona’s evil exes shows up to battle Scott. Scott then learns he must defeat each of Ramona’s 7 evil exes is he wishes to date her. Hilarity ensues.

    I watched this one last week while in Florida with my family. The wife and I had an early night back from Universal Studios and picked up the DVD at a local Walmart. Because I don’t know the source material and I am pathologically opposed to research and studying, I am not gonna be able to make any claims as to whether the movie follows the plot of the comics well or if the tone of the movie was similar or whatever. I’m just taking the movie at face value.

    My wife is neither a gamer nor a comic book reader, which I believe does handicap a viewer for this movie. There is enough to enjoy here that I think a non-gamer that simply enjoys quirky rom-coms can certainly have a good time as well, but you will miss a lot. The movie is filled with little homages to video game tropes and comic book sound effects are spelled out on screen a la the Adam West Batman show. Hell, even the background music is pulled from Zelda in a few places. All good stuff, but perhaps funnier if you are a fan of the source material.

    Speaking of music, Scott Pilgrim’s band in the movie, the Sex Bob Ombs is my new favorite band that doesn’t exist. All their songs were written by Beck and performed by the actors themselves. Seriously amazing, gritty punk/folk rock. Reminded me of Bob Log III quite a bit actually. The soundtrack is great across the board, but to me the Sex Bob Ombs were the definite highlight.

    The fight scenes in the movie are impressive and highly stylized. Very much evocative of the 2D fighting games of the Super Nintendo era. Everyone has impressive fighting skills, despite having no apparent training. Also, some people have some rather startling superpowers which bystanders seem to think are completely normal. This is something I think the movie does very well by the way, it creates these impossible scenarios and gives people these amazing abilities and everyone around them just goes about their business. Making the whole movie stay a little more grounded than it would have otherwise.

    This is getting long, so I’ll wrap up by saying that I clearly loved this movie, and think everyone should watch it. Well, at least everyone with a nerd-sympathetic life. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back with another one of these sooner than you might like.

    -Matt

    Check out the trailer here.