Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Because After Last Season We Needed More

The end of another season has brought more than the usual change in temperature to the residents of a city. As they go through some tragic events, the residents, and especially a group of medical students, must re-evaluate their lives and face new questions. On top of that the movie going audiences must re-evaluate their movie choices and face a new question: "Shall we go see After Last Season?"

Several weeks ago internet gleaning individuals were tantalized by a strange article on on Videogum.com introducing them to on After Last Season, a film so awful, so offensive to the eyes, so cardboard that it could only be the joke of some sick pervert. Well, today Videogum had some more news on the subject. Apparently one of their bloggers got a hold of After Last Season creator Mark Region and squeezed from him exciting news. Apparently the movie is in no way a joke, it isn't even a comedy, it is a "Hitchcock-esque mystery thriller" according to Region. On top of that, it had a budget of $5,000,000 (that is 5 million). oh, trust me, I know what you're thinking: "That can't be right, it looks like it had to of had a budget of at least 25 million." but you're wrong. apparently "The special effects, which appear in the trailer, cost a big part of the movie’s $5 million budget." Oh, well that makes sense. if you haven't seen the trailer yet check it out here at Apple Trailers:


Yes, that's right, it's a legit movie. It has appeared on Apple Trailers along other movies like it such as Where The Wild Things Are and Year One. After Last Season will be seeing a wide theatrical release this coming June and If you are lucky enough that "wide" encompasses a theatre near you. I'll try and bring you more on the film as I learn more and maybe if you're luck I'll even go see it for all of you but only time will tell.

-Daniel, eternally glad that they didn't use a cardboard MRI on him before his colonoscopy

Friday, March 27, 2009

Knowing: Because Space Angels Know Best

Daniel and I saw Knowing. We would never mistake this for an example of quality film. We would mistake this as a good way to waste a Thursday night. That it was. A hopeless mess of a film, but entertaining the whole way through. Now? A review.

Eric: I would title this film Whisper People and the Bunny Bribe.

Daniel: Those were important parts of the film.

Eric: A little girl refers to these space angels as 'the whisper people', see? And these whisper people give elementary-aged children rabbits to coerce them to repopulate the human race, and... wow... this is going to get complicated.

Daniel: We should definitely start from the beginning.

Eric: Right. Well, a young girl, named Lucinda, decides to leave a list of every natural disaster in the Earth's history on a piece of paper, coded by month, day, year, number of deaths-

Daniel: -even latitude and longitude.
Eric: She was a smart girl, that Lucinda. Schizophrenia helped.

Daniel: And who was to find this magical piece of paper 50 years later but our hero Nick Cage.

Eric: His son finds it, actually.

Daniel: Actually it's given to his son.

Eric: Alright, we've corrected each other enough. Now, Nicolas Cage, as comfortable as an astrophysics professor in this as Mark Wahlberg was as a biology professor in The Happening, figures he can find the sequence within this mess of numbers from crazy Lucinda. Who scratches her fingers to bloody pulps at one point, mind you.

Daniel: What I thought was classic was the fact that Cage, in a drunken rage because, obviously, the life of a physics professor is very tough, discovers these seemingly random numbers actually have meaning when he hones in on, what else, 9/11.

Eric: It's the only important date in American history, Daniel.
Daniel: Well, I understand that, but...
Eric: Cage, who apparently can't convince anyone of anything, takes matters into his own hands by buying a pistol.

Daniel: Actually it was a Magnum. I knew this because the gun came with a pamphlet titled "Your Magnum". Plus it makes for a really cool scene when he tries to drive his car with it. Really cool like only a Magnum could make it

Eric: He doesn't merely try, he does. What doesn't make sense is that Cage and his pistol don't save anyone, and cannot, because the number of deaths on paper are always the number of people that die.

Daniel: They've already been prophecized.

Eric: So Cage runs around, trying to prevent disasters from killing people that are already going to die, while his son falls into the same madness Lucinda was plagued with fifty years ago. Did we mention the fucking time capsule?

Daniel: Nah, but I mention he finds it 50 years later so it's all good. Um, yeah, he actually threatens one of the space angels with the magnum and, what's a space angel to do in that situation? What anybody else would do of course, he vomits a blinding light and disappears.

Eric: He opens his mouth, real wide, and a beam
shoots out. Why these Dark City-alien rip-offs can't seem to all run off in time to avoid Cage's wrath is beyond me. Alex Proyas, director extraordinaire, takes the same formula for an alien from his own Dark City and applies it to Knowing, minus the baldness.

Daniel: I guess that we should mention that the angels are trying to abduct Cage's son so that they can go all Planet of the Apes on the boy and have him mate with the adorable 9 year old Abby so that they too can repopulate a new, earth-like planet, complete with it's own tree of knowledge. This movie has a very religious undertone or at least streak to it.

Eric: We don't know this until the ending. Speaking of 'to know' things about this movie, try out a fun drinking game: anytime one of the charact
ers says 'knew', 'know', or 'knowing', take a nice hard swig from your bottle of Jack.

Daniel: Or your flask or whatever drinking apparatus you may have on your person. I did kind of get the feeling they were angels though the first time they glowed gold in young Caleb's room. They were either angels or street performers.

Eric: Now, in the story, Cage manages to view, and fail to do anything about, two giant disasters. One where a plane goes down right next to his car,
and he gets an opportunity to throw a blanket on one person, and drag another one out of a gash in the side of the ship's hull.

Daniel: The ship?
Eric: The air ship. And after this, he saves one woman and one baby in a subway accident.

Daniel: Exactly one woman and one baby.

Eric: This after he chases a DVD thief down the stairs and through a few subway cars.

Daniel: At this point I want to let all of you know what actually built up to this chase (one of my favorite parts of the movie). A night before the disaster Cage calls the FBI from a pay phone and tells them to tape off the intersection where he knows the accident to happen. This phone call is quick and confusing and he hangs up
when he very well could have stayed on longer and possibly made some semblance of sense. Anyways, the next day he drives to New York and finds that the intersection is not taped off. He proceeds to find the nearest cop and scream at her "Why isn't the intersection -

Eric: Blocked off yet?

Daniel: Yes, thank you. The cop replies with "Sir, just calm down. If you'll come with me we can sort this all out." There follows a shot of an FBI "rape van". Cage obviously can make sense of all of this and takes off with superhuman speed into a crowd of naive business men and woman.

Eric: Flash-speed. Godspeed. All of these heroics, and no results. At this point Cage is getting pretty down on himself. Luckily enough, Lucinda's daughter Hagitha or some shit decides he isn't insane after a tense show-down at a Museum.

Daniel: Because they've met already, we really haven't explained that yet. We are obviously having much more fun conveying the ridiculous nature of the film over its plot points.

Eric: So Hagitha and her daughter Abby side with Cage, and want to stop the world from exploding. But they don't know how. By taking a trip to her deceased, schizophrenic mother's shack, why not? And what do they find out there? That the old nut has scratched in an explanation for the mysterious backwards EE on her paint-by-numbers time capsule paper. It means "EVERYONE ELSE". You get that after seeing it dug into the beneath-the-bed-board over and over. And over.

Daniel: They also find a helluva lot of Jesus Stones which are everywhere in this fucking movie and, to tell you the truth, really play no part in it whatsoever. They show where a space angel has done some mischief or such I guess...

Eric: These space angels crop up every now and then, to seem spooky-

Daniel: Mostly to prey on children.

Eric: Right, right. Stand near them, and stare intensely, at least.

Daniel: Or give them Jesus Stones.

Eric: Once they show Caleb an apocalyptic vision of flaming wildlife prancing through a blazing forest.

Daniel: I have to stop you here. I have been waiting to write about this since we started this strange trip into Knowing. This is the scene, by far my favorite scene in the movie, with the slow-mo moose who happens to be on fire. It
comes diving out of a flaming forest, itself on fire, and for a good half a minute it enthralls by
diving back and forth as its magnificent hide burns as I imagine Rome once burnt. All that was missing was the violin solo.

Eric: Speaking of violin, the music from the opening of The Fall is used twice in this. The first time set to slow-motion. Huh... you know, I think the opening of The Fall was in slow-motion, too.

Daniel: It was.
Eric: Hm... interesting, Alex Proyas. Oh! What did you compare Alex Proyas to, Daniel?

Daniel: A Boomer, from everyone's favorite Xbox 360 game Left 4 Dead.

Eric: A comparison which had me laughing for minutes. Where were we? I have to say, I'm completely lost in this movie. So much happens which is confusing, and so much of it is confusing for no reason other than to be confusing.

Daniel: But we still love it, even if it is for all the wrong reasons. I'm really lost now, uh, I must say though that I really enjoyed that song to the throngs of looters and rioters in the streets of New York. I'm a sucker for civil disobedience, plane crashes, and all around chaos when it comes society. But mostly plane crashes. You got your Castaway, your Lost, your Bioshock (which is a video game but a damn good plane crash none the less), and now you've got your Knowing, a nice addition to plane crashes everywhere. But I've lost myself...

Eric: We've skipped over a lot of plot points. A major one is the fact that Nicolas Cage doesn't believe in fate. Or the Fates. Or religion. Fate, faith, none are his cup of tea. And his wife's death not affecting him from states away was the coffin on the nail for him. Nail in the coffin, I mean. Another point is that Caleb is deaf. Which really adds nothing.

Daniel: It really does not play any part in anything, maybe less than even the Jesus Stones. I guess that for a bit it kind of explains how he hears the space angels, they tune in through his tech. But that angle is lost as soon as you realize Abby can hear them without tech seeing as she is a perfectly healthy child. There really are a heck of a lot of things in this movie that really make no sense when you think about it. Take the fact that as armageddon looms Cage looks out of his car window and, what a coincidence, he spots his friend and colleague, dead center of the screen, staring longingly back at him as if to say "You knew all along, you knew."

Eric: Everyone being dead-center in a crowd really got to me. Most of all in the time capsule party scenes. Cage is in there with a lot of people, but he seems to stick out like a sore thumb, not because he's our protagonist, but because the blocking is amazingly awkward. And when he stands alone, he always parts his legs as if to brace himself against the great emotional shocks he might be facing. On a side-note, you know why there are so many loose end, and dumb plot devices? Because six people wrote this, over a number of years. Many don't even know each other, man!

Daniel: In all fairness, Nick Cage is eternally dealing with emotional blows so it is only natural that he stands ready for the next. I think my favorite technical addition to the movie was the extreme zoom on Hagitha as she turns only to notice that she has been car jacked by space angels. It really gets across the feeling of being car jacked by space angels.

Eric: My favorite technique was the completely and totally unnecessary use of hand-held. Anytime the camera shook, I shook my hands, hoping I could realign the camera. Did they lose the tripod in the first week of shooting?

Daniel: Yes. In the girth of Alex Proyas. But that's a pot-shot.

Eric: What the hell is a pot-shot?

Daniel: Um... it's a... uh... yeah. Pretty much.

Eric: No, I get it. Dirty shot.

Daniel: Yeah, there you go. We should end this soon.

Eric: No problem. Let's get to the climax. Caleb and Abby get snatched up into a spaceship as Nicolas Cage falls to his knees in awe. Hagitha gets hit by a car before this, just so you know. And then everyone on Earth gets incinerated.

Daniel: Yes, but incinerated while hugging. Yeah, like I hit on a bit earlier Caleb and Abby are bribed with adorable bunny rabbits to board a space angel cruiser -

Eric: You didn't hit on the bribery, I hit on the bribery.

Daniel: OK, but anyways, they board the space angel cruiser and are taken with what I believe are many more children to an alien world that seems to be covered with amber waves of grain or penis grass as I first thought. There they seem to get over any fears that space travel may have caused and skip towards the glowing tree of knowledge hopefully to get right on procreating. I guess that there are many more children because there were like a bajillion of cruisers leaving Earth and landing on alien planet.

Eric: I think the ships were an oversight. I'm pretty sure Caleb and Abby were meant to be the new Adam and Eve, not one of many Adams and Eves. A lot of ships is more impressive than just one is all. I think that about covers this... this mockery of cinema.

Daniel: Yes, space angel see, space angel do and all that jazz. So the movie ends on everybody dying in a horrific solar flare that wipes out the planet except for the children/childrens that are spirited away to do it nasty on an alien planet. All in all it is a beautiful, beautiful work of art that, for $7.50 at an AMC theatre, was worth every penny (again, for all the wrong reasons)

Eric: Spirited away... we should see Spirited Away soon.

Daniel: I've seen it. Four times.

Eric: And I have not.

Daniel: You haven't? It's really good.

Eric: Are we done with Knowing yet?

Daniel: Yes, I believe so.

Eric: Good.

Daniel: Fine.

Eric: The end.

Daniel: Okay.

By Daniel Unser and Eric T. Voigt

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: So Mediocre It Went Straight to Criterion

Ride, Benjamin! Ride!

Despicable. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is getting a straight-to-Criterion-Collection release. I can think of a lot of films that deserve this treatment less than Curious Case, but because it wasn't a terrible movie, and just a... there movie? An okay movie? An unoriginal movie? The glaring mediocrity of it being overlooked bothers me more than it would an outright bad film getting this level of critical treatment.

I know it made great technical advances. The same team that created the adorable, humanity-saving baby in Children of Men worked on the de-agening of Brad Pitt. It was an awe-inspiring job to anyone who puts stock in realistic special effects, and honing an art to near perfection. And Claudio Miranda's cinematography deserves notice, and praise, and should have taken home Best, next to what I thought was a meh job at it in Slumdog, but aside from technical and the way it was filmed, and Alexandre Desplat's music, and I guess art direction and production design can get a little love, Curious Case has earned near none of the attention it won.

I'm thinking I may be kicking a dead horse with this review, but is it really kicking a dead horse if the horse keeps standing up, and trotting away from you? When it first came out and got consistent positive criticism, I found it mildly annoying. When it got nominated as one of the "best" pictures of the year, I thought people were making a huge mistake. And then I let it rest. Until finding out the Criterion Collection, the film collection I put plenty of stock in, what I consider to be the finest judge of watch-worthy films, decided to jam Curious Case into its happy little family. I really don't understand it.

David Fincher is amongst my favorite directors. Fight Club, Se7en, Panic Room, those were well directed movies. Brad Pitt emotes in Fight Club and Se7en. I don't have to ruin the ending to both, but come on, do you have to kill a guys wife, and make him a figment of Edward Norton's imagination to make him act believably? He doesn't do anything in the entire movie. He doesn't grow. He doesn't reflect a man who is aging backwards, he reflects a man who has had absolutely nothing wrong happen in his life. Anything bad that happens to him doesn't really affect him anyway, because he only has eyes for Cate Blanchett.

Eric Roth is the other big problem. I think I've heard this 30 times, but Curious Case does bear a number of similarities to his previous film Forrest Gump. Mostly in the romance department. Button, like Gump, spends his whole life, from elementary years onward, harping on this one girl. He can't get her off of his mind. At least in Button's case he gets to have a brief roll-in-the-hay with Tilda Swinton, but both of them have stints with prostitutes, and both are hopelessly drawn to women that don't really want much to do with them romantically for the majority of their lives.

These relationships are ultimately what get me. These aren't real relationships. Button has no reason to fall so hopelessly in love with a girl he met as a young old man. He hung out with her on the weekends, when she was visiting her grandmother. There's no reason for such a strong bond to have been built. And the way she treats him when she's legal? Miserably. But that's alright. When he wants her, she doesn't want him. When she wants him, he doesn't need her. Finally though, they get it right. They 'meet in the middle'. Which is nice. If they'd met in the middle, and had really met in the middle, that would be cute. But as is, there isn't reason for them to care about each other. Not to the extent they do, and not to any extent beyond common human decency.

Button doesn't react to death in any impactful way. And it doesn't impact him. People pass out of his life because they're old. Old people die. It's like any little boy having old people around him dying, because his mind is the same age as it should be. If he was born with an old person's mind, as he is in the F. Scott Fitzgerald story, it would actually matter to him that his friends are all dying. But in the film, it doesn't. His father comes to claim him when it's years too late. And he's fine with that. His friends and mentors all pass away. He's fine with that. He only has eyes for Cate. Unrealistic eyes for unrealistic Cate.

Watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind really drove home how fake these relationships were. Spotless Mind gets relationships down. All the characters, they're real people, I can picture them coexisting with me. Not so in Curious Case. Also, the Katrina storyline? Useless. Absolutely useless. Cate Blanchett's retrospective is useless to a story that is perfectly simple to tell without flashing back to 2005 from the mid 1900s. It's under my skin, Curious Case. It could have done so much with the source material, and it could have done so much with the money, and the talent it had behind it, but a few mistakes and it falls flat on its face.

The only excuse for it being admitted into the Criterion Collection is the technical. If you had to have a good story to get into Criterion, it wouldn't be there. And as far as I knew, Criterion meant a film hits all the criteria necessary for it to be a great film. Turns out I was mistaken.

Fuck you, Eric Roth.

- Eric T. Voigt, Ending on a Belligerent Note

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Big Daddy Kev" -or- "Why Some Film Critics Deserve To Be Burnt Alive"

Let me preface this rant by saying I love "Synecdoche, New York". It was beautiful, moving, and poignant, not to mention very well executed/directed/acted/etc. However, with no previous knowledge of Charlie Kaufman's work, and no exposure to other reviews or news of the film prior to its release, I can honestly say that "Big Daddy Kev's" review of the film would have made me avoid it like a bad cancer. A really bad cancer.

Here are some choice excerpts from the review:

"Kaufman has created, what could be his masterpiece, by messing with time and editing in such a way that you are just blown away mentally."

"Being that he had to create a miniature version of NYC in a huge warehouse, he had a like a whole lot to tackle."

"It was like, just so all over the place and it just totally bent your mind."


"Big Daddy Kev", as film critic Kevin McCarthy refers to himself, is by all standard definitions, a douchebag. If his bro-tastic pseudo name and bright blonde gel-spiked hair-doo weren't indicators enough...
BDK on FOX 5BDK with Travis Barker
...let his diction fill in the gaps.

-He refers to films as "flicks" upwards of 20 times in one review.

-He often says moronic things like, "The flick has one of the best plotlines I could ever think of". One of the best plot-lines you could ever think of, Kevin? Good for you.

-He makes constant annoying self-referrals to his patented BDK rating system (we'll get back to that) during his reviews... "Please check it out in theaters, hence the 4.5 BDK rating" and "This is going to be my first 6 BDK of all time because it is just one notch above anything I have ever seen ever."

-His metaphors might be the most vomit-inducing excerpts of film writing I have ever read... "This flick is so dark it just has that perfect dark flavor. Think about a cup of coffee. They didn't give you any cream or sugar, man. They just left it black."

-"Big Daddy Kev's" computer seems to have a dysfunctional caps lock key. His reviews are punctuated by random, unnecessary chunks of capitalized mayhem...

"THIS PERFORMANCE is masterful."-"Move over EVERY SINGLE other movie that is coming out this year!"-"MAN THIS KID WAS AMAZING"-"He was just NON-EMOTIONAL."

-Also, his lack of film knowledge is glaring and obtrusive. Compile that with his basic lack of knowledge for any film he reviews, and you get things like this excerpt from his glowing review of Benjamin Button:

"Overall, all I can say is WOW. The make-up artist on this movie needs to win a Pulitizer prize. I literally was just sitting there the whole time trying to figure out how they did the make-up jobs. There were scenes when Pitt was an "old-young" man and they had his head on a short person's body. It looked completely flawless."

(Those scene were done entirely with CGI.)
(The Pulitzer Prize is an award granted for achievments in newspaper journalism, literary work, and musical composition.)
(Kevin McCarthy is an idiot.)

Now onto his very own, super-cool, "BDK rating system". This system is actually a basic 5 star rating system, but instead of stars, he opted for an absolutely obnoxious picture of himself grinning wide-eyed and open mouthed at a low quality, digital flash camera.


Things couldn't get much worse, could they?

Well friends, this is life, and unfortunately, they do...

He is PAYED to review films. The publication that hired this man-boy to review films for them must have some serious aptitude-analyzation deficiencies. The have successfully given a paying job to an imbecile that gawks at movies for them and then pounds out incoherent, bumbling reviews like a mentally unstable chimpanzee. It's embarrassing, but overall simply frustrating.

This is not Armond White, a film critic parading around false intelligence and pretense above all other pretense. This is an entirely different monster. Kevin McCarthy is simply a fool. A fool with the notion that he has the knowledge of film and basic required intelligence/writing skill to properly review movies. He is a cloying parasite, and the idea that his opinions matter enough for rotten tomatoes to post his reviews on their site, and for someone to pay him for them simply drives me mad.

"Big Daddy Kev", do the world a favor and go die.