moonpie madness movie blog

Monday, April 23, 2007, grindhouse

hey people, as of late ive been writing a movie review column for the website, the first movie that i reviewed for them was grindhouse. here's what i wrote:

Cult movie directors pay tribute to a long forgotten genre

In early January I began to hear rumors about a new Tarantino movie slated for a spring release. The news was soon followed by word that Robert Rodriguez would be co-directing, which was then followed by an announcement that it would be a double feature B-movie thriller. To say the least, I was puzzled. How is it that two of the most renowned cult directors of our time would come together to work on such a picayune film?

Though Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino had worked together before (Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn), the idea to collaborate on a double feature didn't come about till a party at Tarantino’s Los Angeles home. Tarantino, who most recently has been producing films (Hostel, Hero, etc.), is known for showing double features to large groups of friends, and one of those friends was director Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez was so inspired by the idea of a double feature exploitation film, that he immediately pressed Tarantino to do it, saying “We have to re-create this experience for people.” In late March of 2006, Rodriguez began work on Planet Terror and in August of 2006 Tarantino began filming Death Proof.

In Planet Terror, a small town is forced to deal with a deadly outbreak that turns people into flesh-eating zombies. Everyone from the town sheriff to the local BBQ owner gets in on the action, taking out A-list zombies such as Fergie, Bruce Willis and even Quentin Tarantino. I give Robert Rodriguez a lot of credit for pulling this one off, the plot is so far fetched yet while watching, it doesn’t feel out of the realm of possibility. Other standouts are Lost’s Naveen Andrews, playing a weapons dealer who collects testicles, and Freddy Rodriguez, who plays the film’s knife wielding protagonist, El Wray. The two storylines in this picture weave together very well and keep the viewer thoroughly entertained, but beware this movie is not for the faint of heart. There are some extremely gruesome scenes involving needles in eyes and testicles coming out of scrotums, so don’t see it if you can’t stomach it.

The same can be said for the latter half of Grindhouse, Death Proof, Tarantino’s homage to psycho stuntmen. Captivated by the way they “death proof” their cars, he set out to create a slasher film about a stuntman who stalks and kills girls with his car. Tarantino recalls, “[I wanted to] take the structure of a slasher film and just do what I do. My version is going to be fucked up and disjointed, but it seemingly uses the structure of a slasher film, hopefully against you." Hoping to cast Sylvester Stallone and Kal Penn as the two leads, Tarantino settled for Kurt Russell who delivers one of the best performances of his career as stuntman Mike.

It takes some time to get into Death Proof as it begins like most Tarantino films do, with conversations about random subjects that surface as the story proceeds. The movie takes off and begins to rival Planet Terror when the car scenes come into play, particularly the dueling car chases, something that Tarantino felt was lacking in films. “I don't think there have been any good car chases since I started making films in '92,” recalls Tarantino, “to me, the last terrific car chase was in Terminator 2...In between that, not a lot. Every time a stunt happens, there's twelve cameras and they use every angle for editing, but I don't feel it in my stomach.” If Tarantino’s goal was for the audience to feel it in their stomachs then he accomplished his mission; I spent most of my time in the theater wiggling around in my seat, kicking the chair in front of me. The standouts in this one are Kurt Russell, who might have revived his fledgling career, and Rosario Dawson, who impressed me as the makeup artist whom Russell stalks. Of the two movies, Death Proof is definitely the weaker one, but it still manages to captivate with its high speed car chases and fast track action.

As a whole, Grindhouse is a hardcore, three and a half hour movie experience. I Wouldn’t say that it leaves you wanting more, but it definitely fulfills its purpose as an entertaining thriller/horror movie. Sadly, its extended running time limited the theater count and its box office results were very weak (especially for a Tarantino movie), but there is no doubt in my mind that this movie will be remembered as a unique excursion for these two distinguished directors.

Monday, April 09, 2007

do you also miss siskel?

soooo much new stuff, where to start? i've seen everything but i dont have a lot of time so im just gonna give some grades:

The Lives of Others-B+-was anyone else really surprised that this won the oscar for best foriegn picture?

Blades of Glory-B+-I really enjoyed this, even though all the jokes were stock will ferrel.

Grindhouse-B+-Rodriguez's movie was soooo much better. still tarantino's was great. "i'm gonna get my dick wet" great line.

Ghost Rider-C-after this one sat atop the box office for three weeks i decided that i had to see it. the intro was so terrible that i walked out, however i did end up seeing it at a friends. not bad but not good.

300-A-if you are like me, you were waiting for this movie for a longggg time. it definitely met my expectations. good job animation+gerard butler

Monday, February 26, 2007

"tricks are for pimps, i perform illusions"

i love awards season, finally something to bet on other then poker. i was pretty acurate with my golden globe picks, lets see how close i came with the oscars:

Best picture-the departed-wow, i was surprised, i didnt even think this was in serious contention. i saw babel and little miss sunshine going up against each other. 0/1

Best actor-Forrest Whitiker-this was almost guaranteed after wins at every other awards ceremony this year! I knew he'd nab it but i was really pulling for a peter o'toole win. Venus was pretty slow but he was amazing and i dont think we'll be seeing many more films with the knight in them. 1/2

Best actress-Helen Mirren-another guaranteed victory. she was amazing. as good as penelope cruz was in volver, this wasn't even close! 2/3

Best supporting actor-Alan Arkin-eddie murphy was robbed. that's all i can say. little miss sunshine had a great cast, and alan arkin was a big part of that, but eddie murphy was robbed. 2/4

Best supporting actress-Jennifer Hudson-another lock. i dont think anyone really thought abigail breslin could have won it. the ladies of babel stood a chance, especially rinko kikuchi, but this was jennifer hudsons award to take. 3/5

Best director-Martin Scorcese- i wonder how many members of the academy voted for clint eastwood or steven frears this time around. im going out on a limb to say that it was most likely a landslide in scorcese's favor. 4/6

Best screenplay for the screen-little miss sunshine-truthfully i thought it was the queen all the way. bummer. 4/7

Best screenplay based on previous material-the departed-i had this one as the departed, but only after scratching out children of men, which i loved. 5/8

Best Documentary-An Inconvenient truth-there was stiff competition in this category, but Gore's doc. had this award from the beginning. 6/9

Best animated feature-Happy Feet-gotta give it to the biggest digital film of a few years. 7/10

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Seraphim Falls: the first irish western

this my friends is only half true. i would like to start by asking, what kind of a casting director would choose peirce brosnan and liam neeson to star in a civil war era western? though they look so rough and rugged, they spend the entire film covering up their irish accents. i seriously had trouble understanding them. i was looking forward to seraphim falls for so long, its so sad that it was a dissapointment, but its really not hard to understand why. david von ancken, known for his extraordinary television directing skills, was the wrong man tapped for the job. this is not the wire or daybreak, this film should have felt like "the proposition"! instead, its a long drawn out search for peirce brosnans runaway soldier character. angelica houston is on the screen for less then 5 minutes, peculiar. let me leave you with my favorite part of the movie. liam neeson and the bounty hunters come upon brosnans horse, with no man in site they relax for a minute. the next image is peirce brosnans naked body jumping out of the gutted horse. intense. i had to calm myself down. what a bummer.

Monday, February 05, 2007

a weak intro to the new year (doesnt this look the "RENT" poster?)

so far i have not been impressed with the films 2007 has given us. smokin aces couldnt decide if it wanted to be an ocean eleven type comedy or a pg-13 drama, very weak. jeremy piven was good, but this movie was so chopped, it must have been screened 1000 times. i still dont get the ending. was the fbi guy the mafia guy? which one was the dad? why am i still asking these questions, its not worth my time. Because i said so was typical of what diane keatons been doing for the last 10 years. sorta fun. mandy moores getting better at this role, she's played it many, many times. but she is so darn cute. I really enjoyed the queen, hellen mirren is always fantastic, she will most likely win every award this year at the oscars. what looking forward to a few things but for the most part its been quiet... coming up: 300, ghost rider, reno 911, seraphim falls.

Monday, January 22, 2007

letters from pans labyrinth

i havent posted in forever and there's so much that i've seen. let's start off with Clint Eastwood's Letters from iwo jima, one of my favorites for the new year. i enjoyed flags of our fathers and i think i liked this one ever more. there's something to say for an actor like ken watanabe who's believable in every role he plays. the film also goes back and forth from b/w to color and is done so in a really cool grainy way (as is flags of our fathers). this is a good one.

Another movie i saw recently was pans labyrinth, a really creative film set in war torn spain in 1944. its about a young girl who discovers a beautiful world in the backyard of the compound she's staying in with her pregnant mother and evil stepfather. to escape from the real world she travels to the labyrinth and meets LOTR style characters who think she is the princess and the only one who can save their world. Guillarmo Del Toro did an amazing job making this more like a Harry Potter and less like a lady in the water. this is also one of my favorites of the new year.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Top 10 of '06

this was a good year for movies, i had a tough time calculating this post. this is what i've come up with:

1)children of men
3)the king
4)little miss sunshine
5)the devil wears prada
6)the departed
7)the illusionist
9)casino royale
10)the fountain

honorable mention: for your consideration, thank you for smoking, mi3, the science of sleep, stranger then fiction, the prestige.

overrated movies: the science of sleep, the good shepard, united 93, brick, borat.

movies i havent seen yet: dreamgirls, notes from a scandal, the pursuit of happyness