Monday, February 22, 2010

The Art of Being Special...2? (These titles are awful)

I had some free time and thought I was going to be able to post an update without having to add any new movies but then the postman came and screwed me by delivering an order. Dammit. Sorry if the writing in this post feels abrupt and not very articulated, I'm running on a migraine and little sleep, with the cries of a teething baby accompanying me as I write. Hope to be firing on all cylinders next time.

This started out as interesting documentary on the evolution on martial arts in film but by the end I think it had started to flounder. The bits about the origins of martial arts and how it was incorporated into the Peking opera was fascinating, as was all of the footage from films made in the '30s that had never been released here in America. The movie still had my attention all the way through the origins of Shaw Brothers studios but as soon as it started on Jackie Chan and catering to more mainstream fare, I started zoning out. Plus, the kitschy camera work and Samuel Jackson's cornball delivery of the narration started to wear on me. The whole segment on John Woo felt really out of place as they never delved into his little seen martial arts films and only focused on his gun films, all while trying to tie them into martial arts which felt like they were really stretching it. It's a decent time waster but I think a much deeper film could be made on the subject.
Grade: C-

I've long held the belief that Steve Coogan is one of the most underrated actors working today, and this film only cements it. It follows the typical inspirational teacher story arc, but subverts it at every point. Coogan is an absolutely worthless and talentless teacher to the point that you have to wonder how the students are motivated to follow him at all. This is probably the most vulgar movie I've seen without having to be crass at the same time, like Bad Santa. The random insults alone will take you abrupt. I'll try not to go on too much about it so it'll be fresh to anyone watching it but I'll say that it's probably already one of my favorite comedies. I really hope it finds a following.
Grade: A

From Steve Coogan's best to Michael Rappaport's, it was a good day acting-wise. I always liked Rappaport but I never took him for a serious actor. He gives what will probably be the performance of his life in this. The trailers made this out to be a comedy, and it is somewhat, but for the most part it's goddamn depressing. Rappaport gets to live out the same fantasies we all tend to delve into, but the film does a great job of completely stripping away any glamor it might hold for us. The only fault I'll give the movie is that it doesn't seem like it knows how it wants to end, dragging a little too much for me. But through it all, Rappaport shines and makes the film worth checking out just for his performance.
Grade: B

Movies Watched: 3
- The Art of Action
- Hamlet 2
- Special
New Movies Bought: 14
+ The Lost Boys 2: The Tribe (Blu)
+ The Mighty Peking Man
+ Shikoku
+ The Sisters (2004)
+ Nite Tales
+ Kirei: The Terror of Beauty
+ Ringu
+ Ringu 2
+ Ringu 0
+ Rasen
+ Evil Dead Trap 2
+ Primal
+ Black Magic
+ The Worm Eaters
Unseen DVDS: 2964
Unseen Blu-rays: 48
Unseen VHS: 119

I feel like a little worm on a big fuckin' hook.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mitchell's Greatest Companion on Revolutionary Road (I've got nothing)

I managed to watch a few movies this week due to a relatively light homework week. Unfortunately, I've run into a perfect storm. My tax refunds are coming in (let it be said that while having a child is tough and stressful, they're the golden goose when tax time comes around) and a slew of Hollywood Videos are going out of business and sell in their stock. The last time that happened, I ended up bringing home around 150 movies for roughly 70 bucks so we'll see how this goes.

My wife wanted to watch this and for some reason it took me about half an hour to find it on the shelf, even though it was where it was supposed to be. Maybe that's in spirit of the movie, or maybe I've gone blind. I don't know. The movie was a nice change of pace. The whole thing reeked of nostalgia. It felt breezy and light, almost as if the viewer was watching something drawn up from their own hazy memories. Garrison Keiller felt like a natural in the film and was the one character you wanted to see more from, even more so than Woody Harrelson and John C. Reily. I really liked how the camera never stopped but instead floated lazily through each scene, as though it were just a passerby. The only thing that took me out of it was Virginia Madison's character whose purpose is telegraphed pretty on and after a while felt like it was distracting from the rest of the movie. Even though the overall theme of the movie is dealing with death I just felt that she was hitting it a little too on the head compared to the rest of the film.
Grade: B

Having been a fan of Sam Mendes from what I've seen (haven't checked out Jarhead yet), I've been looking forward to watching this. Even though it's set in the 50's, the relationship in the film isn't a whole lot different than what it could be today, though I would think Winslet's character would have more options now. The film is nothing more than a depiction of a marriage falling apart, yet it's fascinating to watch. Everyone likes to watch a train wreck and this film plays into that. People are drawn to conflicts by nature. Who doesn't stop and listen to the neighbors arguing next door or how about those goddamn endless reality shows strung about TV showing couples at their worst? This film places viewers pretty much front and center to the showdown with the only levity brought by Michael Shannon's few appearances which are downright hilarious in a sick way. The only thing that brought me down was that the ending was telescoped way too early and it was pretty obvious how things would go. It actually reminded me of the ending of Little Children with how it approached it. Other than that, it was an engrossing film that wears you out emotionally.
Grade: B+

I think there's some kind of rule where for every three dog-shit Robin Williams movies we get, there's one great one to make up for them all. This film goes beyond black comedy, it's just fucking darkness. Though Bobcat Goldthwait is mainly known for being a goofy guy in the 80's, his directorial films are works of genius (still waiting on a DVD for Shakes the Clown...). This ranks as one of Williams's best performances, with one scene probably being the very best he has done. Just when you really get into the dynamic between Williams and his nasty, rotten, freak of a son, the film throws a curve-ball with the singular most fucked up twist I've ever seen in a film. I really don;t want to ruin anything about it for anyone who hasn't watched it so I'll shut up about it for now. I will say that this is one of those films that reminds you that sometimes, the world is just as horrible and shallow as you secretly believe it is. One of last year's best movies.
Grade: A

It's hard to give a review to a Mystery Science Theater episode. You're already paying to see the movie reviewed and torn apart by the guys so you can't really bitch about the movie since you knew what you were getting into. The only thing you can really comment on is how funny the comments were. This episode is supposed to be one of the landmark shows and I don;t know if it's because Joel left or if it was actually for the movie itself. The commentary isn't one of their best in my opinion. It's funny but there were long stretches where they only elicited a chuckle out of me. If you want to see a great episode with Joe Don Baker, check out the set where they watch Final Justice, which is probably my favorite episode at the moment. And check out Framed for more classic Joe Don action, one of cinema's greats. He's almost a sub-genre on his own. The sad thing is I'm going to have to watch the full version of Mitchell just to find out what the hell happened to John Saxon who's set up the be the movie's main bad guy than completely forgets him for the rest of the running time. No one fucks with John Saxon.
Grade: C+

Movies Watched: 4
- A Prairie Home Companion
- Revolutionary Road
- World's Greatest Dad
- Mitchell- MST3K Version
New Movies Bought: 11
+ Mitchell- MST3K Version
+ Eegah- MST3K Version
+ The Beginning of the End- MST3K Version
+ Sometimes They Come Back Again
+ Death Mask
+ Alice, Sweet Alice
+ Jaws 2
+ Charisma
+ The Tenant
+ The Transporter (Blu)
+ The Transporter 2 (Blu)
Unseen DVDS: 2954
Unseen Blu-rays: 47
Unseen VHS: 119

It's like pissing in the wind.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rockin' (not really)

In the last week, I was able to knock out all of ONE movie from the backlog, only to add seven more. Great.

We decided to throw this on while having dinner as my wife and I tend to save the potentially more moronic movies for then, which was a good call for this film. We're both huge fans of The Office and Rainn Wilson was really the only reason I even bothered to pick this up for two bucks one day. When the movie only focuses on him, it's actually fairly funny. The opening scene is great even though they might be a bit behind on the T2 references. Rainn Wilson is basically playing a less psychotic version of Dwight who also happens to be a musician. Once the movie brings the kids in, my interest dropped pretty fast. Save for the nephew, the kids are pretty cliche and aggravating with the main singer being the pretty typical "hang out in Starbucks and write my songs on my little notebook because I'm such an individual" type of guy. And for the record, mall rock is not exactly "rockin'." There would never be a point in this world where a cast-off Disney Channel band such as theirs would be opening for a Motley Crue-type group and to be honest I have no idea how Wilson's character could even stomach playing that music after how the movie set him up to be such an 80's metal fan. The story is pretty much the same cliche story every other band-themed film has treaded, sans the typical drugs/booze sequence of such movies. Overall, it's watchable but you'll move on from it fairly quickly. Bonus points for Jason Sudeikis who was hilarious in every one of his scenes as the band's manager.
Grade: C

Movies Watched: 1
-The Rocker
New Movies Bought: 7
-Island of the Fishmen
-Nature of the Beast
-Graffiti Bridge
-Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros.
-A Piece of the Action
-Year of the Gun
-Far From Heaven

Unseen DVDS: 2947
Unseen Blu-rays: 45
Unseen VHS: 119

I'm so screwed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I'm on the offense.

Since this is essentially the first of what I hope will be many posts, I guess I'll do the customary introductions. Sorry if it's a bit long.

My name's Dustin and I've been a movie nerd since I watched Aliens when I was four years old. Growing up, I spent every available moment to hang out in the back of the video store where all the horror movies were kept and looked at the covers over and over again, dreaming about what could be contained on all of those tape reels and coming up with my own idea for how the movies played out based on my assumptions gathered from its box-art and synopsis, not realizing that my mind was able to conjure up far better films than what they would eventually turn out to be when I caught up with them some years later. I jumped at the chance to go with my mother to Safeway or Roth's or any other grocery store as they all had a video rental section back then. Even the dumpiest store had a horror movie section for me to hide in while my mother went about her shopping. I got to know those covers pretty well, to the point that even today it'll be easier for me to recognize a movie for its artwork than for its actual title. Eventually, all of those stores sold off their videos in the face of domination by the Hollywoods and Blockbusters, who in turn are now facing their own decimation thanks to Redbox and Netflix. Because of these excursions, I always dreamed of having my own collection of films to look over and ponder just like the video stores of my youth, spending hours making up my own films in my head based on just the garish artwork and hyperbolic descriptions peddled upon the box.

When we found out that by running my grandma's VHS camera through the VCR would enable us to copy rental movies onto our own blank tapes, a new era began. We copied every movie we rented, even buying the longer tapes that could hold four movies to a tape if recorded in its slowest mode. Even when that Macrovision protection shit started popping up, we still plowed on. Some off-colors and squiggles in the picture didn't mean a whole lot to a ten year old who was just happy to have all of these films available anytime he wanted. After a few years, we had a pretty healthy stack of tapes filling up the living room. There was at least a couple hundred of those tapes laying about, the TDK and Memorex labels creating their own sort of tapestry where they rested. This continued on for probably about five or six years until my grandparents moved to Eastern Oregon, taking their precious camera with them. By then, my mom had gotten us satellite and I had taken to recording movies off of HBO and Encore while we had them.

I had never actually thought about purchasing and keeping real copies of these movies until I was about 15 and my friend Nick showed me his little collection of about twenty movies or so. I was struck by how nice they all looked together and something about them clicked within me. They weren't anything amazing themselves, really. It was the usual stuff you could (and still can) find at any pawn shop like Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump but it just seemed...right. I think after that we both worked ourselves into this obsessive mentality where collecting these things were where we were supposed to be. We somehow worked our way into the local Domino's who would give us seven bucks a day to deliver their fliers to their customer's doorknobs. We would place just enough fliers so that if they checked, it would appear as though we had done the job we were supposed to rather than chucking the majority of them down sewer grates which was in fact the reality of the situation. After dumping those damn things, we would spend the rest of the day going to pawn shops and video stores looking for movies to buy until we felt enough time had passed and we went back to the pizza place and collected our daily "earnings." This continued for a little less than two years in which I acquired about 300 VHS movies. By that point, I had landed an after-school job at K-Mart and with no real fiscal responsibility, pretty much all of that money was going to support the habit. It would only be about a year before the next phase would kick in and push it into overdrive.

DVD reared its head in 1998 and at first I tried to ignore it and scoff, not relishing the thought of having to replace all the video tapes I had worked so hard to acquire. After about a year of investigating and comparing, it eventually won me over. For Christmas of '99, my mom bought me my first DVD player along with The Matrix (which I suspect was many people's first DVD), A Clockwork Orange, and a boxset with four horror movies: Sometimes They Come Back, The Dentist, The Landlady, and the majestic Leprechaun. I was floored watching these. I remember the day after Christmas, I had Nick over and made him sit through Corbin Benson cutting up a guy in The Dentist while raving how great the picture was. What really won me over was how easy it was to get all the movies I had been busting my ass to find on VHS. Within a year, I had bought Demons, The Beyond, and countless other Euro-horror films that were near impossible to find uncut versions on video tape. Ever since then, I've collected primarily DVDs with the occasional VHS when I find one that's not on disc yet. On any given month, I'll end up with at least another twenty or so movies if not double that, usually ones I haven't watched before. Even during the periods where I wasn't able to work I'd somehow find a way to end up getting five or so a month. I honestly don't know how I was able to but for what's going on eleven years now, my life has been dominated by these damn discs and it's an addiction I don't see lessening anytime soon. If you want to see what I'm left with, here's some pics I took a month ago. I didn't have enough room to back up and take a full picture so I had to do it in chunks and do a really awful job of putting them together in Photoshop. I need to buy some more shelves to put up which is why it's still a bit messy but here they are.

This is what you see when you first walk in.

This is the best I could do to get them all in one shot.

Horror/Cult Wall

TV/Everything Else Wall

Box-set Shelf #1


Criterions/The Office


Unfortunately, all this leads me to my current dilemma, as well as the point of this blog (hey, only took this long to get to it!). While I've been lucky to have been able to afford all of these things, working over 40 hours a week, taking four or five classes a term, working an internship as well as spending time with my wife and son have left me with little time to actually watch these damn things. There's so been so many conversations about films where all I can say is "Yeah, I have it but I haven't watched it," that I feel like screaming each time it occurs. After taking the time to actually count, I've found out that out of a total of over 5000 DVDs, I have about 3000 movies in my house that I have never seen before yet I've paid money to own them and store them in their own room. I've decided to make a concentrated to get through them in order for me to claim that "Yes, I have seen all these movies." The two main factors working against me are the fact that I just keep buying the things when I have the money which obviously only adds to the pile as well as that there's simply just not enough time in a day for me to get everything done. I've tried seeing if I could go with no sleep but that always ends disastrously for me so that's no longer an option. I'm hoping that by keeping this blog, I'll have something that spurs me on and pushes me to get through as many of them as I can rather than throwing on another season of Family Guy that I've seen a hundred times. If nothing else, maybe you guys out there will be entertained by seeing whether I make it or if I get buried by my own addiction. I'll give a little review of the ones I've watched and keep an update of the totals for what's left and what I've added. Future posts shouldn't be as long as this behemoth, but hey, everyone knows getting through the first act can be a bitch. So I hope you keep coming back and see if this whole thing has imploded on me yet. I'll leave you now with how I plan on wrapping up every post, the stats:

New Movies Bought: 0
Unseen DVDS: 2941
Unseen Blu-rays: 45
Unseen VHS: 119