Release Date: February 7th, 2010 Directed by: Bryan Buckley Based on: characters created by John Hughes Music by: Stephen Altman Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo
Hungry Man, 14 Minutes
So this entry into the National Lampoon’s Vacation film franchise is the most unique, simply because it isn’t a feature length film and is actually a 14 minute short that was produced to promote a website from a decade ago that was essentially Airbnb before Airbnb.
The entire short film centers around just the Griswold parents, as they go to a romantic getaway in a hotel that’s terrible in every way.
The purpose of the film was to show that hotel stays are awful and that you should be renting people’s homes instead while on your vacation.
Website marketing aside, this is a fairly funny short that stays pretty true to the characters of Clark and Ellen Griswold. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo committed to this project and their iconic roles.
Still, this is a short and it goes by rather quickly, as Clark and Ellen eventually escape “Hotel Hell” and meet up with their son Rusty, who is staying in a nice beachfront rental with his family.
While this doesn’t have the running time to tell a larger story, it’s still chock full of decent gags and it fits well within the spirit of the film series.
Rating: 6.25/10 Pairs well with: the other Vacation movies, as well as other Chevy Chase comedies.
“[while holding baby Elena and before submerging her into the black goo] Your mother’s reabsorption into the cycle of life won’t be for nothing, my darling, Elena. You will be the dawning of a new era for the human race… and the human soul. Let the new age of enlightenment begin!” – Mercurio Arboria
I really dug Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, a film that sort of came out of nowhere a few years ago that in some ways, boosted and reignited Nicolas Cage’s acting career. I don’t think that it was long-lasting but his role in Mandy proved that the dude can still bring it and excel when given the right part in a movie.
Cosmatos only has one other film and, at this point, it’s already over a decade old. It’s been in my queue since I saw Mandy, however, so I felt like checking it out was long overdue.
Now having seen this, it’s a picture that I’m really split on.
From the visual side of things, it’s pretty close to a masterpiece. From a storytelling point-of-view, it’s pretty sloppy, slow, pointless and boring.
Visuals can salvage a film for me, sometimes. The thing is, there has to be enough meat on the other side of the coin for me to give an extremely artistic picture a pass on its weaker points. This one just doesn’t have enough to make me care about what’s actually going on in the movie.
This has a lot of really cool, bizarre shit thrown in but I don’t want to watch a movie just to see a surrealist painting in motion, I want to connect to it on a visceral level that requires me to care about what I’m watching and the characters within it.
This is one of those films that introduces cool but underdeveloped concepts and ideas but then never really tries to make it make sense. Sure, you can draw allusions based off of bits of dialogue and clues but when the filmmaker wants you to do all the work and see it in your own way, which I assume is the case here, I find that lazy and it makes me think that there was never a clear vision to begin with.
The entire film plays like a dream. You see and experience wild and cool shit but when you get through it and try to piece it together, it’s just a big blob of cool visual shit and a rollercoaster of mixed and underdeveloped emotions. You just think, “Well, I don’t know what the fuck that was about but it was kind of cool in certain parts.”
All that being said, I can’t knock the acting. It’s pretty good even if every character gives a severely understated performance.
Also, the music and sound were really neat and interesting. It added to the surreal effect of the picture quite well.
In the end, I didn’t just find this underwhelming, I also found it to be disappointing. However, I’d still check out whatever Cosmatos comes up with in the future.
Rating: 5/10 Pairs well with: Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, as well as other modern overly surreal movies like Under the Skin and Enter the Void.
Also known as: Wall Street 2 (working title) Release Date: May 14th, 2010 Directed by: Oliver Stone Written by: Allan Loeb, Stephen Schiff Based on: characters by Stanley Weiser, Oliver Stone Music by: Craig Armstrong Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Eli Wallach, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, Austin Pendleton, Sylvia Miles, Charlie Sheen, Vanessa Ferlito, Jason Clarke, Natalie Morales, Oliver Stone (cameo), Jim Cramer (cameo), Donald Trump (scene deleted)
Dune Entertainment, Edward R. Pressman Film, Twentieth Century Fox, 133 Minutes
“Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs? They get slaughtered.” – Gordon Gekko
Like Godfather, Part III, I feel like this movie gets unnecessarily shitted on.
I get it, though, it’s hard not to compare it to its predecessor and it’s certainly not as good but remove that from the equation and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is still a pretty good finance industry thriller with a lot of good twists and turns that keep your attention and leave you wondering where the story is going to end up.
Sure, there are some things I would’ve done differently but the movie’s main plot focuses on a new character and completely different situations. It just so happens that this character is engaged to Gordon Gekko’s estranged daughter and with him getting out of prison, he comes into their lives and that has a big effect on their relationship and their future.
The film is well shot and it has pretty alluring cinematography. But when you’ve got Oliver Stone behind the camera, you should expect competent and majestic visuals. Needless to say, he doesn’t disappoint.
I like that this film wasn’t just a rehash of the original and that the main character wasn’t just another Bud Fox. Shia LaBeouf’s Jacob was a better person and even if he was on the verge of doing some shady shit, his morale and goodness prevailed. Sure, he got burned a few times along the way, playing with fire, but he won out in the end because he was better than the schemers around him.
Additionally, this movie had so much talent that it’s hard not to enjoy the performances by Josh Brolin, Eli Wallach, Frank Langella and so many others.
Hell, we even get Charlie Sheen back for a single scene cameo. Although, it would’ve been much more interesting to see him involved in the story somewhat, even if just minutely. His appearance is cool to see, as he runs into Gordon all these years later, but it also felt forced and a bit out of place.
I really liked Brolin in this, though. He was essentially this movie’s version of what Gekko was to the first but something about him was even more dastardly. Where I kind of see Gekko as a sometimes misguided anti-hero in the series, Brolin was certainly a villain.
Also, I liked that this picture focuses a lot on the collapse of Wall Street and involves the Federal Reserve. As someone who followed and wrote about this stuff circa 2008, it felt like the film represented that era well.
In the end, this isn’t as great as its predecessor but it’s still a fine follow-up and frankly, I’d welcome a Wall Street 3 in another decade or so.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as Boiler Room, The Wolf of Wall Street and Rogue Trader.
As a lifelong Monopoly master, I liked his documentary because regardless of how well I can play the game, I didn’t know much about its history. But I usually love documentaries like this that go into the background and origins of big pop culture things.
This documentary covers a lot of ground for something under 90 minutes.
It goes through the games creation, it’s evolution, shows how it’s penetrated pop culture and also focuses on some people who play the game in legitimate Las Vegas tournaments.
This also interviews a ton of people associated with all the different focuses of the documentary.
It’s well edited, well paced and, at times, an exciting film.
It’s also educational and does a wonderful job of cluing the viewer in on all aspects of the game, its history and what it means to so many across the world.
This is also free on Prime Video.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: other fairly recent documentaries about unique pastimes and pop culture.
Release Date: March 13th, 2010 (SXSW) Directed by: Elijah Drenner Written by: Elijah Drenner, Calum Waddell Music by: Jason Brandt Cast: Robert Forster (narrator), Eddie Muller, John Landis, Joe Dante, Herschell Gordon Lewis, William Lustig, Lewis Teague, David Hess, Jack Hill, Fred Williamson, Larry Cohen, Jonathan Kaplan, various
Lux Digital Pictures, End Films, 80 Minutes
This was a cool documentary but the title may be a bit misleading, as it isn’t specifically just about grindhouse pictures. It actually goes much deeper than that and discusses the history of exploitation film in general, going back as far as the Pre-Code Era and explaining what that was, how it ended and then how films evolved in the aftermath.
The best part about this documentary is that it interviewed so many great creators that were all a part of exploitation filmmaking, as well as also bringing in several experts on the subject. I especially liked seeing Eddie Muller in this, as I mostly only see him involved in things specifically about classic film-noir.
American Grindhouse also gets extra points because it was narrated by the great Robert Forster.
In addition to all that, this documentary featured an absolute fuck ton of movies from all eras and it definitely increased my list of films I need to review, pretty exponentially.
This was well organized, well presented and gave me a lot of insight. Mind you, I say that as someone that is pretty well versed on the subject matter.
American Grindhouse was in my queue for far too long. I didn’t think that I would think highly of it, as documentaries like this are a dime a dozen. However, this one is far ahead of the pack and it impressed me and actually re-energized my love for this type of cinema.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with:Machete Maidens Unleashed, Corman’s World, Electric Boogaloo, etc.
Also known as: TR2N, TRON 2.0 (working titles), TRON 2 (informal title) Release Date: November 30th, 2010 (Tokyo premiere) Directed by: Joseph Kosinski Written by: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal Based on: characters by Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird Music by: Daft Punk Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen, Daft Punk (cameo), Steven Lisberger (cameo), Cillian Murphy (uncredited)
Walt Disney Pictures, Sean Bailey Productions, John Thomas Special FX, 125 Minutes
“Life has a way of moving you past wants and hopes.” – Kevin Flynn
It took a really long time for TRON to get a sequel but I was glad that it did, even if this film wasn’t quite what I’d expected.
Compared to the original, this film is incredibly polished. But that’s also due to 28 years of special effects advancement and the use of modern CGI, which didn’t exist in nearly the same way in 1982.
That being said, this is a beautiful and fine looking motion picture. However, despite its enchanting otherworldlyness, it kind of lacks the spirit and magic that was present in the original film. Call me old but I prefer the primitive effects and matte paintings, as well as the simple digital 3D models.
Before ever seeing footage of this film, I had hoped that the filmmakers would maintain the look of the original. I understand why they didn’t, as it might not appeal to a new generation but this film feels like too much of a jump aesthetically.
Now even though the CGI within the computer world looks solid, it was actually done pretty poorly in the real world sequences. Primarily those that featured old actors with their faces de-aged to look like they did almost thirty years earlier.
For the most part, I liked the story in this film. It was a good logical future for where the previous movie ended up. The only thing that I wasn’t crazy about is that the real world stuff in the beginning was too dragged out.
Although, I like that this doesn’t show you the computer world until the protagonist is sucked into it. I wish the original film wouldn’t have shown the computer world almost immediately, as saving the reveal to be the exact moment where the hero arrives, astounded by his surroundings, has a sort of Wizard of Oz colorization effect.
The film is also full of colorful characters and everyone does pretty well with their roles. I especially liked Michael Sheen’s over the top, Bowie-esque performance. But with everyone being really good and having a lot of personality, sadly, Garrett Hedlund’s Sam was pretty dry and boring. I don’t think that’s necessarily Hedlund’s fault, as his character was written as a straightman type, but he was overshadowed by just about everyone else, which doesn’t make for an exciting protagonist.
While TRON: Legacy doesn’t blow my socks off, I did like it enough to hope that the film series would rage on for years. Right now, it looks like that’s not going to happen but as long as Disney owns the brand, it will eventually get a sequel, a remake or a reboot.
I didn’t even mention the score because do I need to? Everyone’s heard it, everyone loves it and you can’t avoid one of Daft Punk’s songs from this movie creeping into every station on Pandora.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: it’s predecessor, the original TRON, as well as the animated series, TRON: Uprising.
Also known as: Space Battleship (Japan – English title) Release Date: December 1st, 2010 (Japan) Directed by: Takashi Yamazaki Written by: Shimako Sato Based on:Space Battleship Yamato by Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Leiji Matsumoto Music by: Naoki Sato Cast: Takuya Kimura, Meisa Kuroki, Toshirō Yanagiba, Naoto Ogata, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Maiko, Shinichi Tsutsumi, Reiko Takashima, Isao Hashizume, Toshiyuki Nishida, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Isao Sasaki (narrator)
Abe Shuji, Chubu-nippon Broadcasting Company (CBC), Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Robot Communications, Sedic International, Toho, 138 Minutes
“Space stretches into infinity. Countless stars die as others are born. And thus, space is alive.” – Narrator
I wasn’t aware of this film’s existence until a year or so ago. Being that I loved the Star Blazers TV series way back in the day and revisited it recently, as well as reading the original Yamato manga, I felt that I had to see how this live action adaptation stacked up.
Well, it’s pretty enjoyable and where it’s good, it’s pretty close to great. However, it does get bogged down by things but at the same time, it’s still a worthwhile and impressive take on Space Battleship Yamato.
The big thing that hinders it though, is that the original Yamato story is a friggin’ epic. It’s massive, it’s long and a ton of stuff happens on this crew’s journey into deep space to find the MacGuffin that will save the world.
The problem with that is that they try to wedge in as much of the grand story as possible into a two hour and eighteen minute movie. It is like narrative overload. And where it really effects the overall flow of the picture, is that you don’t notice the passing of time until it’s referenced towards the end of the film. That could’ve been fixed easily with captions on the screen that said Day 187, Day 429, etc.
It also could have been fixed had this just told a part of the story or left a lot of the extras on the cutting room floor and focused on just the main objective: fly deep into space, grab the MacGuffin, fly back to Earth and save humanity.
If telling as much of the full story as possible was something that they wanted to do, they could have also made multiple films. Sure, that takes more money, more time and this was still unproven as a live action movie but I’d rather have a good part one than a movie that feels like a kid’s toy box that’s so overloaded that you can’t close the lid.
This is very obviously a fan service movie though, but it’s an example of how fan service can get in the way of storytelling and flow.
But let me stop harping on all that because there are things I loved.
For one, the action is superb and it almost makes up for the film’s problems. For a Japanese space opera, the special effects are impressive. Every time the Yamato has to have a big space battle, I was sucked in like a little kid and couldn’t turn away.
Plus, the human action scenes were also superb.
I also really liked the cast, especially the two leads. They were convincing and their tender moment at the end was pretty touching after this long and arduous journey.
Ultimately, Space Battleship Yamato is an ambitious attempt at adapting a beloved franchise. It did a better than decent job and had some pretty solid high points. While I’d rather see this play out over a longer period of time, be it extra movies or as a television series, it still shows you what can be done with this property in a live action presentation.
I hope that someone else eventually comes along, learns from the mistakes of this production and gives us something next level.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: all other incarnations of Space Battleship Yamato, as well as anything created by Leiji Matsumoto.
Also known as: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (working title) Release Date: July 27th, 2010 (Canada – Fantasia International Film Festival) Directed by: Edgar Wright Written by: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright Based on:Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley Music by: Nigel Godrich Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong, Nelson Franklin, Thomas Jane, Clifton Collins Jr., Bill Hader (voice)
Universal Pictures, Marc Platt Productions, Big Talk Productions, 112 Minutes
“When I’m around you, I kind of feel like I’m on drugs. Not that I do drugs. Unless you do drugs, in which case I do them all the time. All of them.” – Scott Pilgrim
I haven’t watched this since it came out in theaters. From memory, I liked it at the time but strangely, I’ve never felt the urge to rewatch it until now, nine years later. And that was mainly just to review it, as I’m a fan of Edgar Wright’s work and Scott Pilgrim still seems to be beloved by comic book fans after all this time.
Well, I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Maybe I’m older, or since I’ve seen this, I sort of know what to expect from it so the razzle dazzle doesn’t awe me as it once did or maybe it just isn’t a good movie as far as its story, characters and purpose goes.
To start, this is an amazing looking picture on its surface. I really dig that the filmmakers committed to the bit and gave us a true live action version of the comic without trying to rework it into something more realistic. The special effects are spectacular, the musical numbers are cool and this film is really impressive in that regard. I love it for its style and how it is all conveyed on screen.
However, the whole story is focused on one of the worst romances I have ever had to sit through in a film. Scott is obsessed with Ramona, but she acts like that girl who is too cool for everyone at all the parties she feels the need to keep going to. But really, she’s just a broken person with bad hair that delivers packages for Amazon Canada like a total twentysomething normie just trying to pay for hair dye, thrift shop clothes, avocado toast and her 1/9th of the rent.
Still, her personality is off putting as fuck but then so is Scott’s, as he just acts like whatever he thinks she wants and he even treats his current girlfriend like shit and doesn’t really seem to know who he is, what he wants or where he’s going. He just knows that he’s obsessed over some hipster douche with weird hair and now has to fight a bunch of her exes in order to maybe date her. But she is so indifferent and noncommittal for almost the entire picture that Scott just comes off as a dopey puppy that needs to have his heart crushed.
Normally I wouldn’t be so harsh on something like this but it is this budding relationship that is the framework for the entire narrative. Sad pussy puts it all on the line for salty nihilist weirdo bitch that kinda maybe likes him right this minute but has no idea how she will feel in five minutes.
There is no lesson to be learned on this journey.
I’ve never read the comic because I don’t have much interest in it but I hope the relationship in the source material isn’t this shallow and stupid.
The only reason why this doesn’t get a terrible rating from me is that the visuals and the style of this film are so alluring and perfectly presented in the film medium that the picture does put me in awe in that regard. This is a really cool and fun movie to look at and I dig the music. The surface is superb, it just turns to crap when you get past the polish, bright lights and groovy tunes.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, as well as the Kick Ass movies and Zombieland.
I have really enjoyed the comic book documentaries that Patrick Meaney has made. However, this one was kind of a dud, which is unfortunate, as I have liked some of Grant Morrison’s work over the years.
This was also Meaney’s first documentary, so there’s that.
What I mean, is that this felt amateurish and the editing wasn’t as good as it became in his later films. This was mostly talking head interviews and even then, most of them were just one or two sentence blurbs that came out pretty rapidly. Also, this was definitely a puff piece where everyone interviewed just praised Morrison like he was the second coming.
A lot of this felt insincere. And I don’t mean that to knock Morrison but this wasn’t a good documentary or very interesting. I anticipated really delving into the man and really getting some insight into his best work. Instead, this is just a bunch of people trying to sell you on Morrison, a guy you probably already know if you’re taking the time out to watch this.
I don’t care that he’s an alien abducted wizard and how “cool” this “rockstar” is, I want to know more about his creative process and why he did certain things a certain way. There’s a lot of “Oh, yeah… that was great! And then so and so stole it for this movie!”
This was just a lot of people giving Morrison a community wide handjob, telling us he’s great but not actually telling us what makes him great and why his work is great.
This was a real bore to get through but I’m glad that Meaney’s documentaries got better. Check out the one on Image Comics and the one on Chris Claremont. Those were infinitely more engaging than this was.
Rating: 4.5/10 Pairs well with: Patrick Meaney’s other comic book documentaries but his later ones are much better.
Also known as: Oliver’s Arrow (fake working title), El Origen (Spanish title) Release Date: July 8th, 2010 (London premiere) Directed by: Christopher Nolan Written by: Christopher Nolan Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Michael Caine, Pete Postlethwaite, Lukas Haas, Talulah Riley, Dileep Rao
Legendary Pictures, Syncopy, Warner Bros., 148 Minutes
“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” – Cobb
Like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, I guess I’m the only person on Earth that doesn’t like this movie.
I can’t take away from the visuals though. This film is stunning to look at and all the strange physics of the dream world come off almost flawlessly and create a visual smorgasbord of cool shit. And because of that, this film had one of the most amazing trailers for its time.
Frankly, I think a lot of people were so blown away by the trailer and the visuals that they completely dismiss everything else.
Inception is one of those “science-y” word salad movies that no one wants to look uncool by admitting that they have no idea what the fuck any of this is about.
The film relies solely on you buying into Christopher Nolan’s bad science, which is constantly explained with more and more layers dropped on top of it all. I don’t think that Nolan really knows what the hell he was saying. It’s complicated, it’s boring, it’s really fucking lame and it’s only cool for those people that read I Fucking Love Science‘s Facebook feed for the headlines without clicking on the articles. It’s bullshit brain casserole for the normie that yells “Yay, science!” but hasn’t actually picked up and read a book by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, whose books are actually really easy for the layman to digest.
This movie wants so hard to be smart but it’s dumber than my cousin Sam after we found her under a bridge in Ft. Lauderdale following a twenty-six day opium bender.
On the flip side, the acting is top notch. I can’t fault the cast for anything. Well, except for Ellen Page who is dryer than a box of saltine crackers, opened and lost in the Sahara during a drought. However, good acting aside, every character in this movie is flat. Also, it lacks any sort of emotion because of the flatness of these characters and because the audience is hit in the face with “Yay, science!” every 8 seconds that you don’t have time to make a connection with anything.
Plus, this film isn’t as innovative as it thinks it is. It certainly isn’t as clever as it thinks it is, either. I wonder if Nolan stores his farts in jars to enjoy at a later date?
Also, Nolan’s directing is damn good. It’s just his writing that is terrible with this $160 million bullshit bonanza.
Fuck this movie. I hate it. I can’t give it a very low score because of the strong positives. But I can’t sit through this turkey in one sitting. I’ve tried. Watching it again, just to finally review it was like sitting through a four day root canal without drugs.
As for that ending, was DiCaprio dreaming? Who the fuck cares.
Rating: 5/10 Pairs well with: other Nolan films that don’t feature Batman.