Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Problem with Sleeping Through Movies

The problem with sleeping through movies is that when you actually don't sleep through a movie, when you see the movie, and then you dislike it and express this opinion to people who did like the movie, they say, "Sure. But did you actually see it?"

And my answer is: Yes, I did see A History of Violence, and I hated it.

"But did you see all of it? It takes a huge twist!"

Yes, I saw the twist. I saw the violent sex scene on the stairs. I saw the part where the characters get to Boston. I watched all of it, and I hated it.

A big reason I hated it is because I watched it on disc, on my laptop, on a plane, with a woman sitting next to me. When the violent stair sex scene came on, I worried, "Is this lady going to think I'm perverted that I'm watching what might appear to her to be a rape movie? Is it better to play it cool, like the first time you see a sexually-charged movie with your parents?" So I toughed it out and watched the whole thing — with headphones, thankfully.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Get Him to The Greek

Get Him to The Greek
Running Time: 109 minutes
Released: June 2010
Viewed: October 2010
Estimated amounted of movie viewed: 50%

Is it me or did Johan Hill put on a lot more weight for this role? Maybe it wasn’t for this role. Maybe the weight gain was just part of his growing fame and fortune. Luckily, after his starring appearance in Get Him to The Greek, it’s highly possible that his fame and fortune (and thus waistline) will begin to dwindle some.

In this movie, Jonah Hill, an “affable nitwit,” works in the music business and is tasked with getting a rock star named Aldous – a very un-rock star name if I do say so myself – to The Greek Theater in Berkeley. Puff Daddy plays Jonah’s boss. P-Diddy says getting this rock star to The Greek will be Jonah Hill’s moment, his one shot at doing something great in life.

Already, there are many problems with this script, and it’s worth tuning out ever so slightly now before one’s brain begins to suffer from the lack of depth of the movie. You may find yourself searching for an element of the plot to make more sense, to lend itself to being read in multiple ways, and this is a mistake. Just let go. That way, when the drug scenes come and the camera action mimics the style of a Jefferson Airplane music video, you can be lulled to sleep to by its swaying motion.

The jokes are lame. There are two love stories, and one of them feels tacked onto the script entirely, as if someone holding the purse strings for this movie read the script and said, “You can’t have a protagonist without a female love interest,” and sent the thing back for revisions.

Aldous’ love story, crude and thin as it is, does have a few compelling moments, fleeting as they may be. At one point, he is talking to his ex-lover while she is in bed, naked, with another man sleeping next to her.

With movies like these, I don’t even feel the need to ask the next morning how the conflicts of the film were resolved. I can assume that the characters were all very nearly at The Greek, but were somehow thwarted from getting there at least twice. Aldous probably played his show. Jonah Hill probably pissed off P-Diddy, and then soon after won back his confidence. One of the love-interest women probably helped save the day in some unexpected, deus ex machina kind of way. I bet there was some gross kissing or a threesome.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes
Running Time: 128 minutes
Released: 2009
Viewed: May 2010
Estimated amounted of movie viewed: 45%

Robert Downey Jr., is there any movie you are not positively dreamy in?

I saw Ironman and fell for that bad-boy-good-guy thing that Mr. Downey Jr. pulls off so well. Afterward, I tried Ironman II, but I got sick and missed the theater outing with my friends — and came up $12 short! Rats! What a shit-house weekend that was.

For my next attempt, I went for Sherlock Holmes.

The Sherlock Holmes I remember from being a schoolgirl was a bumbling, fumbling, ironically over-confident fuddy duddy. I remember moors, a big black dog, and Victorian knickers-knacks galore. Surely, as an Englishman, he drank tea, more often than any 13-year old Ameican girl could fathom possible in a single day, especially while fighting crime.

This movie version of Holmes was not the Sherlock I remembered. As played by Mr. Downey Jr., this Holmes still has a bit of the bumbling qualities, but none of the fuddy duddy. His new characterization is marked by an ability to focus and be highly calculating in a spilt second, thereby trumping his rivals. These calculating moments are filmed in a slow-mo-to-quick-mo style, kind of like how I imagine The Matrix, even though I've never seen it.

Oh that's right: I've never seen The Matrix.

So Sherlock Holmes: hunky, witty, and more aloof than oafish, more cat-like than mindlessly wandering like a dumb chicken. The old Sherlock Holmes was a dumb, wandering chicken who happened to get lucky again and again. This one is a sleek puma, lazing about for ages, batting at people or objects with oversized paws until the moment that — aha! An unexpected pounce that utterly conquers and destroys the prey.

Watson has always been the brains behind the operation. Here, he is Jude Law. I don't know what else there is to say about that.

The Hound of the Baskervilles this is not. If an unseen yet mysterious big dog out in a bog doesn't do it for you, no worries. Here, we have a shirtless boxing match, a brawl in a chemistry lab, and plenty of tight camera shots on Mr. Downey Jr.'s shimmering abdomen. Never you fear about the "mystery story" aspect of Sherlock Holmes, as here, there's no grand plot to follow, no twists and turns, no cliffhanger cuts between scenes or chapters, no crime to solve. There's just a hot bod to follow across the screen.

Oh, what the heck? Let's show another picture of that steamy Holmes:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Iron Man

Iron Man
Running Time: 125 minutes
Released: 2008
Viewed: April 2010 and September 2009
Estimated amounted of movie viewed: 100%

Last night I watched Iron Man for the second time. I watched it start to finish, the entire way through, both times. One of those times was on an airplane, where most people traditionally sleep through movies.

But I watched every minute of it.

You know why?

Because Robert Downey Jr. is freaking hot.

And you know who else is smoking hot? Gwyneth Paltrow. She plays Pepper Pots in the movie, Tony Starks' personal assistant.

I don't care if Gwyneth Paltrow has an email newsletter where she refers to her celebrity friends pseudo-cryptically, calling them "William Joel" and whatnot. I don't care. She's hot. And Iron Man rocks. But it's not for children, even though it's rated PG-13. There is some wicked war torture stuff in that movie. Beware.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Running Time: 93 minutes
Released: October 2009
Viewed: March 2010
Estimated amounted of movie viewed: 75%

Zombieland is a movie about zombies. But what's confusing and what makes me wonder why I would want to watch it really at all after the first five minutes is that the zombies have already wiped out the entire town, save for Woody from Cheers and a guy who is not Michael Cera.

After the first 10 minutes, I ask aloud, "Where is this movie going? Everyone is already a zombie! What on earth could the plotline actually be from here?"

The answer? "Killing zombies in interesting and novel ways." My friends say this, without taking their eyes off the screen, as if I were retarded.

Okay. I'll bite.

After a Metallica song, followed by a Chuck Mangione tune, the zombie slaughter turns gruesome. The zombies spew innards outwards. Puss-faced people spit up brains and guts, or what looks like chocolate-sauced spaghetti. Zombies with oozing, putrid skin and hair matted with body fluid charge at any non-zombie humans still roaming the vicinity, although they are few and far between. This is not the kind of movie you want to watch while noshing ooey gooey treats. It's hard to to keep my eyes on the screen, but even harder to doze off.

I may have not seen a ton of zombie movies in my days, but one thing I know for sure is that the undead are slow, both figuratively and literally. They're dumb, and even I — the slowest mammal on the planet — could outrun one. But in Zombieland, they know how to truck! Zombies move through the streets like they are the offspring of Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Usain Bolt.

Moving on...

Little Miss Sunshine (here she is slightly older and into her awkward tween years), and a dark haired girl who will later become Not-Michael Cera's love interest, bait Woody from Cheers and N-M. C. and steal their guns and car.

There is some mention of rednecks, but nothing that I'd classify as a joke. It's more like references. Redneck references. Nods to rednecks. This, I do not understand.

Eventually, the two groups (Little Miss Sunshine and the love interest, and Woody and N.-M. C.) team up formulate a plan for what they will do now that they live in a world overrun with zombies: They will drive through the night to California, where they will go to Wally World or Disneyland or Adventureland... something like that. And in order to get some shut eye 'til then, they hijack Bill Murray's house in Beverly Hills.

I'm sorry. Two problems:

1) Why do they assume Bill Murray's house is empty, or at the very least, not rigged with an elaborate alarm system that will deafen them if they try to break in? Or just locked?!?! Worst of all, what if he's home?!?!?

2) I watched No Reservations like two weeks ago, when Bill Murray was a guest on the show, and the episode was about the Hudson Valley, where he lives! He doesn't live in Beverly Hills!

Well, the first problem as I see it turns out to be a valid concern. Team "Escape Zombies by Ransacking Bill Murray's House" find Murray hiding in his house and wearing costume makeup to try and look like a zombie. Camouflage: a unique zombie-combat tactic. Well done.

But after a few unfortunate turns, Bill gets killed. At least his death scene is pretty hilarious.

At this point, there haven't been any legit zombies on screen in like 20 minutes. The gore has been replaced with flirting, bonding, and sharing. Is this the movie I agreed to watch? Given the Bill Murray cameo is squarely over, I pull up a pillow, toss my glasses to the side, and wave good night, making a conscious choice to go to sleep for once.

As far as I know, no one ever makes it to the amusement park. The two kids never hook up. Everyone lives happily ever after, safe from zombies, in Bill Murray's fake Hollywood house.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Running Time: 93 minutes
Released: August 2004 (U.S.)
Viewed: 2004
Estimated amounted of movie viewed: 0.1% but only if you count the credits

The Metreon Theater in San Francisco has the potential to be a snug and toasty environment. Lean back in your adjustable seat, tuck yourself in with your winter coat (even in the late summer, San Francisco is chilly enough for down jackets), and prepare to be lulled into sweet, sweet slumber.

The opening credits to Hero, starring Jet Li, were wonderfully colorful.

The next thing you know, you'll be on the bus home.

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight
Running Time: 152 minutes
Released: July 2008
Viewed: January 2009
Estimated amounted of movie viewed: 5%

This is one of the "new" Batman movies, meaning there's no Jack Nicholson, no Michael Keaton, and certainly no Tim Burton. But there are a couple of actors I have heard of in this movie, namely Heath Ledger, who died, and Christian Bale, whom two of my old college friends used to adore. He starred in such films as Newsies and Swing Kids, they told me.

Dark Knight is dark. And I think it mostly takes place at night. Hence the title.

I watched this film on a long flight between New York and Rome, Italy.

Heath Ledger's Joker is pretty creepy. He sits at a big table. The seats on Alitalia, economy class, are mostly comfortable, and when you recline them with that little button, they become more so.

Some guys get blown up.

If you adjust the volume on the armrest console, you can get The Dark Knight to a reasonable sleeping level.

There's a guy named Harvey Dent, and he's the good guy.

If the flight attendant comes around with coffee, and you've asked your friend to wave her off, you can get a solid three-hour nap out of this film.

The good guy becomes a bad guy. His name changes to Two-Face (wasn't that a He-Man action figure? Oh, no. That was Two-Bad, which is a much more interesting name. It gives me a little more to think about.).

The end.