4.29.2013

Why does it always rain on me?

Two days left of April can you believe it? Seriously where did this month go?? Not that I'm complaining or anything... Obviously I'm completely stoked to be greeting summer with its warm weather and blockbuster flicks, but this month flew by so quickly I barely had any time to think! Fortunately the last few days have been VERY nice now that we've been enjoying some GORGEOUS weather and life seems bright and sunny again, which makes the list I'm about to present seem a little out of place! For you see, it is time for my monthly installment of themed lists for Courtney's blog...so in honor of the month that is famous for rainy showers I present to you the ten best movie scenes that greatly uses RAIN...aka the murkier days that a month like April has to offer. Also, I have to mention that I forgot to include the great scene from Cinema Paradiso on my list...so just know that it should be there in spirit!  So head on over, check out the list and let me know what you think!





4.26.2013

Welcome to Jurassic Park

Only one more week til the summer movie season begins. Unfortunately though, until then our cinematic options remain limited and if you're looking for something to do this weekend, I'd recommend Oblivion if you haven't already seen it yet....otherwise you should really spend some much needed time at Jurassic Park. I saw the 3D re-release of the Steven Spielberg 90's classic a couple weeks ago and I've got to say...it was a pure delight! The film marks its 20th anniversary this year and still holds up remarkably well. In fact, most of the special effects have barely aged and remain some of the most convincing in the history of film.

Let's go back twenty years and talk about why it was important then and how it's still important now on both personal and broader levels. First we'll go with personal. Twenty years ago, six-year-old little Emily was not allowed to see Jurassic Park on the big screen (and rightly so...for she would have been terrified.) Instead, she was dragged to see the utterly forgettable (well it WAS 20 years ago) Once Upon A Forest while three of her older siblings were treated to the cinematic experience of a lifetime. The tinge of jealousy immediately struck once they came home and RAVED of its sheer amazing awesomeness....an awesomeness I could only dream of.... Instead, I was stuck with this :(



An undisclosed amount of time later once the film had made its way to video and I was a little bit older, I discovered its greatness for myself and have watched it countless times since. Jurassic Park was and is just a solid reliable movie. One I could put on anytime and truly enjoy....a movie that you can truly get lost in. I've been thinking a lot about compiling my Top 100 favorite films of all time and listing them in installments here on the blog. I might have to look into it, but one thing is for sure...this film definitely has a place on that list, and might be as high as my Top Thirty or even Twenty. So what did it mean to me finally seeing it on the big screen? Even after all these years, it was an absolutely thrilling experience.. and something my younger self really thanked me for doing. You see, I found the biggest screen I possibly could by seeing it in IMAX 3-D. I'll be honest...the 3-D part wasn't what was cool (though a few moments it really added a lot, during others it looked distractedly unfinished,) it was seeing this film on the size of screen it was meant to be seen.

On a cinematic level, Jurassic Park was a truly important film too. It followed in the footsteps of Jaws, Star Wars and Indiana Jones in establishing that summer is the time for blockbusting thrills. Probably most importantly as I mentioned before, it was a milestone in the advancement of special effects. It challenged other films and pushed the boundaries of what could be put onto film...what an audience would be able to believe. From here on out, the sky was the limit. That limit has been tested time and time again, but as I said, the fact that even twenty years later the film is still as believable as the day it opened is really beyond impressive.

Okay, so it's a good film that influenced movies in general back in its day. But why is it worth seeing on the big screen today in 2013? Well for one thing it STILL dances circles around many of the big films released nowadays. Besides really awesome looking effects, the film provides genuine unparalleled thrills. It's been able to do that on a small screen for twenty years, but seeing them on that big screen (either again or for the first time) magnifies those thrills 100 times more. The story takes the audience on an incredible ride from being truly in awe to experiencing downright terror. But besides all of that, it has some pretty great dialogue and some really fun characters. Ian Malcolm and Dr. Grant are obviously awesome, but what about Dennis Nedry or the guy that's obsessed with raptors...or Samuel L Jackson!? Really everyone has their moment to shine in this film (as annoying as Lex is, even she provides her handiness occasionally!) So honestly, do your past younger self a favor and see this film the way it was meant to be seen...on a screen as big as those dinosaurs deserve.

4.22.2013

Upgrading Oblivion

Over the weekend, I finally got the chance to see the Tom Cruise flick Oblivion, a film that I have been looking forward to all year. I had many hopes that this would be a great film, instead finding it to be merely good...but flawed. It had a lot going for it with its stunning visuals, intriguing enough story, awesome set design, and sleek action sequences. But somewhere along the line, mistakes were made....mistakes that kept Oblivion from reaching its truly great potential. So instead of a standard review post (I'll sum it up for you right now. Solidly entertaining, but somehow a bit lacking. I'd say generally though it's a good film and I give it a 6.8 I think....maybe a 7 on a good day.) I am going to present to you 5 ways Oblivion could have gone from good to great.

CASTING CASTING CASTING -
Yes, I wrote casting three times. That's because to me this is the weakest part of this film....and actually it has nothing to do with Tom Cruise. Well...maybe something, but he's not exactly my problem with this movie. Truth be told, I'm pretty ambivalent to Cruise at this point...not a lover or a hater. So let's just say we're trying to keep Cruise intact and cast the characters around him to improve the story (still...if we had a completely clean slate even more possibilities would be opened up as well.) Obviously Morgan Freeman can stay, and possibly Melissa Leo....but everyone else needs to go. The two main females are all wrong for their roles and completely lack an absolutely necessary chemistry with Cruise. While Olga Kurylenko is strikingly beautiful, that's all she really has to offer in such a pivotal role. When it's revealed that she is [SPOILER highlight to read] Tom' Cruise's wife and we're supposed to buy this deep love between the two...well it just comes off as hollow. Had an older actress that he DID have chemistry with been cast, we really would have rooted for them and the story would have gained more power [/SPOILER]

But Andrea Riseborough who plays Victoria is even worse. How did she get this role?? She was so completely bland I just couldn't understand how such an important role like this didn't go to a beautiful A-list actress in her 30's or 40's who would be more age appropriate for Cruise as a love interest and possibly have better chemistry. Possible contenders: Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel Weisz, Kate Beckinsale...heck even Angelina Jolie who I hate would have been better. It's hard to care about either of the female leads, but the members of the rebellion are just as bad. We have Morgan Freeman's right-hand man who is as vanilla as they come, but we're supposed to believe he's the epitome of awesome, yet somehow lacks a personality? Nah. For that, I would have cast some wisecracking cool actor like Josh Holloway from Lost.

CLEARER CHARACTERIZATION AND BACKSTORY - Once again, the clear problem with the story is its characters. Getting a better cast helps a lot with improving this, but good actors can only do so much with what they're given. The characters in Oblivion have a paper thinness quality to them. More personal touches would have gone a long way by giving insight into who these people are/were. We see some of that with Tom Cruise...personifying the human version of Wall-E combined with Ariel by collecting human things, as well as referring to his love of sports...(which are unrelated to Wall-E and Ariel) But still....what do we know about his actual personality or any of the others for that matter? More depth and stories to these characters could have made them far more memorable and relatable. No one in Oblivion seems to ever have any sort of feelings. Sure it's a cold post-apocalyptic world they're living in...but that doesn't mean they have to act like robots!

TRIM THE FAT - This movie clocks in at a little over two hours...but because of the over excess in the story feels a lot longer. One of the last action sequences in particular I remembered feeling extremely antsy and bored with. It involved the rebellion and just felt so anti-climactic that it was hard caring who lived or died. In fact...I just wanted most of those characters to be killed so that we could move along to the far more interesting stuff that followed. As an editor, you want a movie that paces along effortlessly, and Oblivion did that quite well for the majority of the film...but when it hit the hour and a half mark and we were still being kept in the dark about the majority of the plot it was kind of frustrating. If some of the reveals had been moved up a bit earlier into the film so the audience could tell a bit more where it was going, it might have held some interest better.


SIMPLIFY THE STORY - Going along with the last section...a big problem with Oblivion is it has SO much going on and tries to tackle numerous story lines without fully explaining any of them really. Choose one basic story line you want to tell, and let the others intertwine with it and support THAT story. Oblivion kind of felt like 5 different movies at once that couldn't quite decide which one it wanted to be at any moment. If you have the option always go with simplicity instead of trying to over complicate things. If it went with one central theme it tried to convey instead of trying to have plot twists everywhere, it would have been a much more simple and relevant film.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN - At the end of the day, there won't be too much that will distinguish Oblivion from any other run of the mill sci-fi. It's kind of a heavily borrowed movie. I obviously don't have the mind of a talented sci-fi writer to offer up specific suggestions, but if something had been done to set it apart it would have been far more memorable. apart from the rest, it would go down as an absolute classic, rather than a nice entertaining film likely to be forgotten. The best thing it had going for it was its imagery of a truly deserted earth...but even later this year we have After Earth attempting to challenge the setting of an uninhabitable earth. But [SPOILER highlight to read] evil [/SPOILER] robots, cool spaceships, and [SPOILER highlight to read] clones [/SPOILER] Not much new with that. Oblivion played it safe and didn't take any risks. There was no uniqueness really to be found in its cold exterior, which is why it won't become a classic of the genre.


Really though, the film did have a lot going for it and I hope I'm not coming off as overly harsh because I did at its core enjoy it...I just hoped it would have been one of the greats...instead of one of the goods.

4.19.2013

Show Me Your Teeth

Hello, readers. I'm afraid I've been neglecting you again. Not because I've been horribly busy, and not because I have writers block (on the contrary, I know I have a Roger Ebert and Jurassic Park 3D blog in me at the very least...) No, I'm afraid it's just pure laziness that has kept me from writing. Well....that and having to take a few visits to the dentist this week. Or as I like to refer to it, "hell on earth." I'm not the only one to have this view it seems. All throughout movies and television, dentists are portrayed to be twisted individuals....often even monstrous villains. Like Jerry said once in Seinfeld, the only difference between a dentist and a sadist is newer magazines right? So, these unpleasant trips to the dentist now leads me to my most random list of perhaps any I've come up with on this site: a collection of dentists from both film and television that more than likely you would never want to visit.

FINDING NEMO - After being unexpectedly captured, young clownfish Nemo finds himself as the new resident of an aquarium located in a dentist office. Coping with the utter boredom of captivity, the other fish really have nothing to do but absorb themselves in the day to day working of one Phillip Sherman. What do we learn about Sherman from their observations? Well...he's a little negligent in noticing the cleanliness of the aquarium right away, as well as oblivious to the fact that his niece probably isn't ready to take care of a fish. But the most disturbing? His handling of root canals. As an individual who JUST went through that this week, I'm glad P. Sherman of Wallaby way was not my dentist.



THE SIMPSONS - At a routine dental checkup, Lisa discovers that she will soon need to get braces before her teeth go from problematic to British....and finally resulting in complete and utter disaster. This development, while no means great gets even worse when it is learned that Mr. Burns plans to do away with her father's dental insurance benefits. What does that mean? As expected, it takes Homer awhile to make the connection of this significance. As for this dentist...he's certainly not the worst on this list, but he definitely has a terrible bedside manner. Or is it reclining chair-side manner in this case?






HORRIBLE BOSSES - Jennifer Aniston has never looked better....and has probably never played a more despicable character either. This lady dentist doesn't know the meaning of "no" as she's constantly sexually harassing her coworkers and taking advantage of her patients. She's a pretty horrible person...so it's no wonder that one of her dental assistants wants to...um murder her. Probably every single scene of her's in Horrible Bosses isn't exactly appropriate...so we'll leave this section clipless.

SEINFELD - A similar speculation goes on in Seinfeld with wondering what dentists are up to when their patients are under. But that's not the only appearance that dentists make the show. The most memorable dentist comes in the form of one Tim Whatley. Tim does all sorts of insulting things from going out of his way to not invite Jerry to his party, re-gifting presents, giving away super bowl tickets and finally converting to Judaism purely for the jokes. But don't you dare insult his occupation...because that's the only thing he has a true allegiance to.



MARATHON MAN - Okay...I'll be honest. I've never seen this and I don't know that I ever could. Every clip I've ever seen in this film is absolutely horrifying. I hate going to the dentist as much as it is, but this film that shows it as an extreme form of torture would probably cure me for life of even contemplating the thought of sitting in a dentist's chair. The clip of the torture scene is readily available on youtube, but I'm opting to include the trailer below instead for my own peace of mind.


LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS - Like in Marathon Man, Steve Martin's dentist also uses his dentistry as a form of torture, but this time the results are a little more darkly comedic than downright horrifying. Having this subject elicit laughs doesn't hurt though when you have Bill Murray as a way too overeager patient either. I'm including two clips here, the first is Steve Martin's song announcing his occupation to the audience. This musical number made my teeth pretty sad. The second is the aforementioned scene with Bill Murray who is all too excited to be visiting the dentists office.




RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER - 

Hermey is without a doubt the nicest dentist you'll find on this list. But being an elf his whole life, that probably makes him the most inexperienced as well. Sure he's practiced pulling teeth on a few dolls (even ones he specially designed for the task...) and he helped the snow monster out of a jam...which is actually a huge client to have (pun intended.) But the real deal is always much different than pretend. Oh well...at least he's not maniacal right? Beggars can't be choosers you know.



THE HANGOVER -  Stu is such a talented dentist and chooses to prove it while utterly wasted. After all, only a true professional could [SPOILER] pull out his own tooth, right? [/SPOILER] Okay, maybe that isn't the best showcase of his intellect or intuition while under the influence...but nevertheless his skills remain impressive. I must admit, losing a tooth is one of my recurring nightmares, so had I woken up without one...I probably would have freaked out at least ten times more than Stu did. What a pro.

GHOST TOWN - Ricky Gervais' Dr. Pincus is a man purely dedicated to his craft. Purely professional, he is almost a pleasant dentist to be around. Is there really such a thing? Wait strike that... he's kind of happens to be a big jerk in his personal life and barely talks to his patients (who likes small talk anyway?)....but you really can't deny that he knows his stuff. But don't worry, a near death experience will change all that relatively shortly...and soon he'll be a pretty decent guy to be around.


CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY - How would it be to grow up with a strict dentist for a father? Would you rebel as much as you could the first chance you got? Would you perhaps...create the world's grandest chocolate factory after living so many years without that sweet goodness? Yeah I probably would too. But at least he got freakishly white teeth out of the deal...


Sadly, I find myself relating to many of those cinematic patients for this is just the beginning of my time at the dentist. But hey at least writing this post was somewhat cathartic...so I could get a tiny bit of revenge....not to say I'm an anti-dentite or anything... Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my list. Thankfully summer is right around the corner and the movies worth writing about will be popping up all over the place, so I won't have any excuses for these blog lapses!

4.10.2013

No time for losers

All right! It's finally time to announce the winner of the Movies & Mayhem Best Sports Film Bracket! Like so many readers predicted.....the winner is............

FIELD OF DREAMS!!!


But trust me, this was NOT an easy win and, in fact, this was one of the most exciting matchups yet. Late last night it appeared that Rocky would be the winner, but Field of Dreams would have the last laugh when it roared back to complete its comeback. Sorry, Rocky fans you were so close. I'm still figuring out who is the ultimate winner of the bracket challenge, so I'll either email the winner or announce it in the next blog. Thank you to everyone who participated, this was a fun little series and I hope you all enjoyed it!

4.08.2013

This One's for the Love of the Game!

My friends, it is finally time to reveal who the winners were in the Final Four. These are the two films that will compete in our championship game for a chance to be named the greatest sports movie of them all. These two films have crushed every film they've come up against, so it should be very interesting to see who will manage to come out the victor when they finally face each other. Let's recap Round Three and then move on to our voting!!


ROUND THREE RECAP 

HOOSIERS VS. FIELD OF DREAMS.
WINNER: FIELD OF DREAMS. Both of these films are beloved by many and easily won in any matchup they were placed. However in the end, this cocktail of baseball and ghosts was far too powerful for any film on its side of the bracket, even the classic basketball film Hoosiers

ROCKY VS. CINDERELLA MAN.
WINNER: ROCKY.  This boxing matchup was won with ease by the champ Rocky. He took down all his competitors in the same way, and Cinderella Man, the heavyweight that it is, wasn't any exception. Now only one baseball film stands in his way.
So that takes us to your final chance to decide THE greatest sports film of all. Which will it be?

Need a little help deciding which one wins your fancy? Let's recap each film by watching their trailer and reviewing some of their strengths.

FIELD OF DREAMS- 

WHY FIELD OF DREAMS SHOULD WIN -
  • It's one of the only movies I know of that can successfully make grown men cry.
  • There's a whole episode of HIMYM dedicated to its greatness.
  • It's extremely quotable and memorable all the way around.
  • It's about more than just baseball. 

ROCKY - 

WHY ROCKY SHOULD WIN- 
  • It's the ultimate story of an underdog
  • It has one of the coolest theme songs of any sports film.
  • It has some of the most memorable and iconic moments of not just any sports film, but film in general.
  • Would you just LOOK at that trailer? The trailer alone is just such a great showcase of trailers for that era. Okay, that wasn't really about the movie so....I'll add it has some great characters.
So here it goes....pick the champ now! The winner will be announced sometime on Wednesday, so be sure to get your votes in before then!

4.05.2013

The Final Four


Hello, readers! Last blog I revealed the Elite Eight and let you choose who would be in the Final Four. Coincidentally I included a lot of quotes from Roger Ebert on those movies, and sadly the very next day we learned of his passing. He really was a great critic with a wonderful way of using words....even after battling cancer for so long. Perhaps after our tourney is over I'll have to do a tribute post to him since he was the type of critic that really inspired me to share my thoughts on movies too. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. It's time to recap the last round and reveal the winners! After that's through it will be time to pick the two films that will make it to the finals! You ready?



ROUND 2 RECAP

HOOSIERS VS. CHARIOTS OF FIRE
WINNER: HOOSIERS. This was the closest matchup and Chariots of Fire would have come up with the upset with just a couple more votes. But alas, it was not meant to be.

FIELD OF DREAMS VS. PRIDE OF THE YANKEES
WINNER: FIELD OF DREAMS. The battle of the two baseball greats wasn't even close as fan favorite Field Of Dreams would not be denied a spot in the final four.

ROCKY VS. MONEYBALL
WINNER: ROCKY. The newcomer just couldn't hold its weight against this veteran sports classic.

CINDERELLA MAN VS. NATURAL.
WINNER: CINDERELLA MAN. Looks like another boxing film just took down another baseball film. Boom!

So with that.... here is the updated bracket!

And onto the FINAL FOUR!!!


FIELD OF DREAMS VS. HOOSIERS - The stakes couldn't be higher!! Which one of these beloved classics gets your vote??


CINDERELLA MAN VS. ROCKY - So. Who WOULD win in a fight between Rocky Balboa and Jim Braddock? Vote below which boxing film wins your heart!!




All right guys that's it for this installment. Tune in Monday to see which two films will be duking it out for the title!!!

4.03.2013

Elite Eight



All right readers! It's time to reveal the winners of round 1 and see who moved on to the Sports Movie Elite 8. Then it will be time to move on to some all-new matchups to determine who moves on to the final four! You ready? Brace yourselves guys...this one is gonna be LONG since we have to cover the last round, as well as the next.


ROUND 1 RESULTS:

HOOSIERS VS. SANDLOT. 
WINNER: HOOSIERS! Hoosiers CRUSHED Sandlot. Poor Sandlot, you'll always be my favorite!

No Ham, Hoosiers did.


CHARIOTS OF FIRE VS. EIGHT MEN OUT. 
WINNER: CHARIOTS OF FIRE! Chariots barely edged out Eight Men Out! This was one of the closer matchups.

just keep running and you'll make it to the next round! even if you run into this...



FIELD OF DREAMS VS. THE KARATE KID. 
WINNER: FIELD OF DREAMS! Like Hoosiers, this number one seed absolutely killed its competition.

More chores for you Daniel-san.

RAGING BULL VS. PRIDE OF THE YANKEES. 
WINNER: PRIDE OF THE YANKEES! This was definitely one I thought would be much closer, but Yankees pulled off the upset with ease.

Today he considers himself the luckiest man....

ROCKY VS. SPACE JAM. 
WINNER: ROCKY! Poor cult classic Space Jam never stood a chance against this heavyweight and was completely rolled over. Not even Michael Jordan's special drink could have helped them overtake the champ.

Too late to be making bargains now Charles!

RUDY VS. MONEYBALL.
WINNER: MONEYBALL! This was the most exciting matchup of the night as Moneyball came out with the win by one single vote!

Wait a minute....wait a minute. We won???

Meanwhile, poor Rudy is over there like hey Elite Eight! Did I get in?

CINDERELLA MAN VS. REMEMBER THE TITANS.
WINNER: CINDERELLA MAN. I was kind of surprised this one wouldn't be closer because I know a lot of people obsessed with Remember the Titans, but Cinderella Man rightfully won this one by a landslide.

Sorry Ryan Gosling, not even your incredible dancing skills could help the Titans advance.

THE FIGHTER VS. THE NATURAL.
WINNER: THE NATURAL. This one was a pretty close battle as well...but The Natural came away with the victory in the end.


That thunderous left punch was no match for...


So here's a look at the updated bracket and now let's get voting on the next round!



ROUND 2. This time we'll hear what the critics have to say!



Hoosiers vs. Chariots of Fire
Roger Ebert says of Hoosiers "It's a movie that is all heart."
Reel Views agrees and says "Basketball movies don't get any better."

Of Chariots of Fire, Time Magazine wrote "Like every element in this picture, the actors look right; they seem to emerge from the past, instead of being pasted onto it, as so many characters in historical movies seem to be."

Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars, and Reel Views said "Appreciation of this picture doesn't demand a love of sports, merely an understanding of human nature."




Field of Dreams vs. Pride of the Yankees -
Variety said Field of Dreams "sustains a dreamy mood in which the idea of baseball is distilled to its purest essence: a game that stands for unsullied innocence in a cruel, imperfect world."
Roger Ebert adds "Field of Dreams will not appeal to grinches and grouches and realists. It is a delicate movie, a fragile construction of one goofy fantasy after another. But it has the courage to be about exactly what it promises."

Pride of the Yankees has an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes! Variety says "For baseball and non-baseball fan alike, this sentimental, romantic saga of the NY kid who rose to the baseball heights and later met such a tragic end is well worth seeing."

New York Times says, "As a simple, moving story with an ironic heart-tug at the end, it serves as a fitting memorial to the real Lou, who called himself the luckiest man alive."






ROCKY VS. MONEYBALL

Roger Ebert said of Rocky "A description of it would sound like a cliche from beginning to end. But Rocky isn't about a story, it's about a hero. And it's inhabited with supreme confidence by a star." Rocky also boasts a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The newest newcomer to the group, Moneyball boasts some terrific accolades including a BP nomination and a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. The New Yorker said it was "One of the most soulful of baseball movies -- it confronts the anguish of a very tough game."

The New York Observer says
"This is a subtle, elegant and altogether triumphant film about a subject I thought I was tired of, told with an artistry and freshness that is positively thrilling."






CINDERELLA MAN VS. THE NATURAL

New York Observer said of Cinderella Man that "The thing that ultimately makes it a classic in the pantheon of American movies is the way it reveals something about the idealism, strength, grace and grit of the American Dream."
Rolling Stone agreed and claimed that "Not only is Cinderella Man Howard's best movie, it is also his most personal and deeply felt."

Reel Views says The Natural is "Arguably the best baseball movie ever made."
Gene Siskel said "Being a baseball fan involves repeatedly experiencing exquisite pain and exquisite joy. Well, there's a lot of both in The Natural."



So which ones will get your votes? Return to find out the winners on Friday and see who makes it to the FINAL FOUR!!