Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Funniest Joke in the World

This is for you, Mike:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar nominees

Well here they are. Some I agree with, some I don't, some I haven't gotten to see yet. I can say without hesitation that the Bob Award nominations ain't gonna look like this:

Best Picture: "Babel," "The Departed," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen."

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, "Blood Diamond"; Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson"; Peter O'Toole, "Venus"; Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"; Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland."

Best Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"; Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"; Helen Mirren, "The Queen"; Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"; Kate Winslet, "Little Children."

Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children"; Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"; Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"; Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed."

Supporting Actress: Adriana Barraza, "Babel"; Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"; Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"; Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel."

Directing: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"; Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"; Clint Eastwood, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Stephen Frears, "The Queen"; Paul Greengrass, "United 93."

Foreign Language Film: "After the Wedding," Denmark; "Days of Glory (Indigenes)," Algeria; "The Lives of Others," Germany; "Pan's Labyrinth," Mexico; "Water," Canada.

Adapted Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen and Anthony Hines and Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips, "Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"; Alfonso Cuaron and Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, "Children of Men"; William Monahan, "The Departed"; Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, "Little Children"; Patrick Marber, "Notes on a Scandal."

Original Screenplay: Guillermo Arriaga, "Babel"; Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis, "Letters From Iwo Jima"; Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Guillermo del Toro, "Pan's Labyrinth"; Peter Morgan, "The Queen."

Animated Feature Film: "Cars," "Happy Feet," "Monster House."

Art Direction: "Dreamgirls," "The Good Shepherd," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "The Prestige."

Cinematography: "The Black Dahlia," "Children of Men," "The Illusionist," "Pan's Labyrinth," "The Prestige."

Sound Mixing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Dreamgirls," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Sound Editing: "Apocalypto," "Blood Diamond," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Letters From Iwo Jima," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Original Score: "Babel," Gustavo Santaolalla; "The Good German," Thomas Newman; "Notes on a Scandal," Philip Glass; "Pan's Labyrinth," Javier Navarrete; "The Queen," Alexandre Desplat.

Original Song: "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth," Melissa Etheridge; "Listen" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven; "Love You I Do" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett; "Our Town" from "Cars," Randy Newman; "Patience" from "Dreamgirls," Henry Krieger and Willie Reale.

Costume: "Curse of the Golden Flower," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Dreamgirls," "Marie Antoinette," "The Queen."

Documentary Feature: "Deliver Us From Evil," "An Inconvenient Truth," "Iraq in Fragments," "Jesus Camp," "My Country, My Country."

Documentary (short subject): "The Blood of Yingzhou District," "Recycled Life," "Rehearsing a Dream," "Two Hands."

Film Editing: "Babel," "Blood Diamond," "Children of Men," "The Departed," "United 93."

Makeup: "Apocalypto," "Click," "Pan's Labyrinth."

Animated Short Film: "The Danish Poet," "Lifted," "The Little Matchgirl," "Maestro," "No Time for Nuts."

Live Action Short Film: "Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)," "Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)," "Helmer & Son," "The Saviour," "West Bank Story."

Visual Effects: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Poseidon," "Superman Returns."

Okay, so there they were. So why exactly is Sacha Baron Cohen not nominated for Best Actor but "Borat" is up for Best Screenplay? I mean there's barely even a screenplay there. Almost every line of dialogue is improvised. Whatever, I'm just glad that "Apocalypto" didn't get a cinematography nomination. I would have vomited with indignation. And I haven't seen his movie yet (it doesn't open in Seattle until Friday) but go O'Toole!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

And now for something completely different...

Possibly the greatest bit of inspired lunacy in the history of Monty Python. Blows "SNL" and "Mad TV" away:

Friday, January 12, 2007

As Promised...

Reviews of "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" and "Notes on a Scandal."

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer- Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born in a fish market in France in the 1730s. His mother, thinking that he was another in a long line of still births, left him for dead. When patrons of the foul smelling market discovered the child alive they found the mother and had her hanged. With that, Jean-Baptiste had brought about the death of his first victim. The opening of Tom Tykwer's ("Run Lola Run") new film is absolutely grotesque, as are a number of moments throughout its lenghthy 2 and a half hour running time. Jean-Baptiste's young life (narrated by John Hurt) is a painful one, but he has one great gift. His sense of smell is superior to that of anyone in the world. As an adult (played by Ben Whishaw) he uses this gift to escape enslavement and he becomes the assistant to an Italian perfume maker (Dustin Hoffman). Jean-Baptiste becomes obsessed with finding the ultimate scent. So obsessed that he kills for it.
Admittedly, "Perfume" does not sound that appealing, and danged if I could think of a way to make that plot not sound, as Graham Chapman would have put it, "too silly." But it actually is a pretty good movie. It does take awhile to find its footing. The opening narration is interrupted abruptly by the appearance of Hoffman's character. Hoffman is having fun, as he always seems to be these days, and while his performance is good, it is initially disorienting. It is as if the film has drastically changed gears. Once Whishaw shows up again as Jean-Baptiste however, "Perfume" really gets into its stride. Whishaw is exactly right in the lead role. He makes Jean-Baptiste at once revolting and fascinating. We almost sympathize with him, even though we know we shouldn't as the body count rises.
What Tykwer's film does especially well is show us people at work. Like "The Good Shepherd," "Perfume" shows us the working world of a subject most of us know little if anything about, and completely absorbs us. It's very interesting seeing Jean-Baptiste and Baldini (Hoffman) work on concocting new scents. The film also features fine work from Alan Rickman and Rachel-Hurd Wood. It's a movie that had to grow on me a bit, but ultimately I liked it. "Perfume" is currently in limited release. 7/10

Notes on a Scandal- A story that is almost certainly inspired by that of Mary Kay Letourneau has been moved from my home state of Washington, and transplanted to London. It's a shame, because we were so proud (he typed sarcastically, which is something that sadly does not translate in print).
"Notes" is actually a very very good film though, because it's not really about the affair between a teacher and student, but about the lonely woman who leverages knowledge of it to her advantage. Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) has taught at St. Christopher's for decades. Her contempt for virtually every one she meets is barely concealed. She sees children not as who they have the potential to be, but as most of them will become. She sees failure and stupidity.
Barbara finally makes a friend when a new teacher by the name of Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) comes to town. Sheba's a likable young woman and soon the two are fast friends. Barbara hardly feels the same way about Sheba's family. She reads her diary to us and explains how baffled she is that Sheba would marry a man so much older than she is (played by the always outstanding Bill Nighy). Barbara even has contempt for Sheba's son with Down Syndrome, whom she refers to as a "rather tiresome court jester."
It's not long before Barbara unwittingly happens upon Sheba in a compromising position with a young student. It is at this moment that Barbara realizes that she owns Sheba, and can forever blackmail her into being her friend.
Dench and Blanchett are both perfect in their respective roles. Dench's intensity is unsettling to say the least. The screenplay from Patrick Marber (based on a novel by Zoe Heller) is filled with wonderful dialogue. It is sharp, pointed, and as performed by actors of this caliber, has an even greater sting. Marber wrote "Closer" as well, so he is no stranger to making unlikable characters endlessly fascinating. You can't pull yourself away from these people, no matter how much they make your skin crawl. Nighy shows his versatility once again, as the wounded cuckold. He is probably best known as the aging rock star in "Love Actually" and the man behind the squid in the most recent "Pirates of the Caribbean." Tom Georgeson (who I haven't seen since "A Fish Called Wanda") has a small role as well. "Notes on a Scandal" is directed by Richard Eyre and is in semi-wide release. 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Children of Men

I'm just gonna say it. This is one of the best films of 2006.
It's 2027 and there hasn't been a child born in 18 years. No one really knows why, and on this particular morning the world is awaking to the news that the youngest person on the planet, "Baby Diego" has died. Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is a British reporter and former activist, who narrowly avoids being killed in a terrorist attack on a London coffee shop. These attacks are common place, as is the sense of despair. These are just things that people have come to live with. Soon after, Theo is kidnapped only to discover that his ex-wife Julian (Julianne Moore) is responsible for snatching him. She needs his help, and so does Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), the young woman who is inexplicably pregnant.
Explaining the state of all of the warring factions within the world of "Children of Men" would take quite awhile. Suffice it to say, Kee needs to get somewhere safe to have her child. It is going to be an incredible task with danger at every turn, one that Theo reluctantly takes on.
Director Alfonso Cuaron provides "Children" with a sense of urgency like I've never seen before on film, with no small contribution from cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki ("The New World"). It is a relentlessly intense, gripping, and thoroughly mind-blowing experience. It is a very rare thing to see an action sequence that truly feels real. This film is loaded with them, and they only serve to heighten its emotional impact. Five screenwriters have adapted the novel by P.D. James, and the result amazingly never feels diluted. I've heard the argument that "Children of Men" raises many questions that it never answers, but the real story isn't about why women can't have babies, but about giving Kee the chance to have hers.
Despite its subject matter, "Children of Men" is ultimately brimming with hope and actually has a great sense of humor, thanks in large part to the performance of Michael Caine as an aging hippie who's an old friend of Theo's. If Oscar voters had any taste, "Children of Men" and "United 93" would be the two most serious contenders for Best Picture and Best Director. As it stands, I don't expect either to even get nominated, but what do you expect?
Go see this movie now. 10/10

Still to come...
Reviews of "Pefume: The Story of a Murderer" and "Notes on a Scandal."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"Idiocracy" Review!

Last fall I gave you several updates on the status of the release (or lack thereof) of the new film from Mike Judge, "Idiocracy." FOX didn't release a trailer, gave the film no advertising of any kind and dropped it in a few theaters in Los Angeles and throughout Judge's home state of Texas for about two or three weeks in September. The movie came and went with little notice, not due to a lack of quality, but simply because few knew it even existed. But I kept looking for it, hoping against hope it would make its way to even one screen in the Seattle area. It never did. So this morning I headed over to Fred Meyer, and I can only assume I was the first person who bought it there. I hope it's sold a few more copies since.
"Idiocracy" is the story of the most average man in the United States Army, Private Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson). He and a prostitute named Rita (Maya Rudolph) have been selected to participate in a scientific experiment in which they will be frozen for one year. Things don't go exactly as planned and when Joe awakes, he finds himself in the apartment of a man named Frito (the surprisingly good Dax Shepard). Joe's trying to figure out what's happened, but Frito is trying to watch the most popular show on television, "Ow! My Balls!" Joe does not yet realize that it is the year 2505, and as is explained at "Idiocracy's" beginning, humanity has become progressively dumber. Stupid people had more and more kids, while the smarter ones kept finding logical reasons not to.
Joe soon discovers that water has been replaced by Brawndo (which "has what plants crave: Electrolytes!"), a Gatorade style drink. He goes to the doctor (played by Justin Long in a hilarious cameo), who explains that, "So basically it says here you're f---ed up, you sound like a fag, and your s--t's all retarded." You see, Joe's average speech is far superior to that of modern man. Joe's IQ test (which includes adding 1 and 1) reveals that he is now the smartest man alive, and it is up to him, with Rita's help, to solve the problems of mankind. If he doesn't, the President (Terry Crews) will send him to jail.
The future proves to be a hilarious playground for Judge, a master satirist. I think it's safe to say that yes, humanity is getting dumber, so the world of "Idiocracy" (in which the Academy Award winner for Best Screenplay is for a movie called "Ass," in which a naked butt farts for 90 minutes) doesn't seem terribly far fetched. While not as laugh out loud funny as "Office Space," it is a very funny film, and I get the feeling that subsequent viewings will only reveal more depth. As annoyed as I am with FOX for keeping this film from us in theaters, I'm glad that the DVD is finally out and you can take a look at this very inventive look into the future. 8/10

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Grindhouse" Trailer!

There's really nothing to add here:

Aleksey Vayner vs. Michael Cera

Decide which is funnier. The real thing done with complete seriousness, or Michael Cera's (George-Michael on "Arrested Development") parody. Look for Martin Starr (Bill on "Freaks and Geeks") in Cera's:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Don't threaten me with a dead fish.

Yes kids, I'm going to once again speak of the virtues of the greatest film of all-time, Bruce Robinson's "Withnail and I." Why do I love it so much? Why does anybody? There's no plot, it looks as though it were made for television, but there's just something about it. If there's a film out there that is more quotable I'd be stupefied. If there is a better moment than Withnail demanding "finest wines available to humanity," well then I'll eat my hat. (Not literally, but hey, I like the saying, "I'll eat my hat." It's underused in present day society. If I'd lived in the Great Depression I'd have heard it all the time. Probably would have gotten sick of it. Because you see, cliches and catch phrases...Oh....Oh, I'm sorry. Now I've gone off onto a tangent about hat eating. It's terrible really. Sometimes you just get started and you can't stop. Oh, and I'm still inside parentheses. I must really do something about that.) There. That's better.
So yeah, why do I love it so much? Besides its endless quotability, it's so perfectly performed. Honestly if you're an aspiring screenwriter, actor, or director you owe it to yourself to watch this movie repeatedly. For writers, the dialogue is superb and the comedy is based entirely in character. There's not a "joke" in sight. For actors, Richard E. Grant (Withnail), Paul McGann (I), and Richard Griffiths (Uncle Monty) are all case studies in perfection. It was Grant's first film and he's a non-drinker. You'd never know either to watch his performance. McGann is so subtle. It would be easy for him to get lost amidst Grant's theatricality (which was absolutely right for his character) or Griffiths', well...Montyness, but his work is every bit as impressive as the others in the less showy role. And I can't forget Ralph Brown for his two scenes as Danny the Drug Dealer. You'll want to access the subtitles for him but it's worth it.
For directors, "Withnail" is a lesson in simplicity. You don't have to have sweeping camera movements and use angles that call attention to themselves. You don't have to show off.
After a minor ordeal I was finally able to watch the features on my region 2 disc yesterday. Great stuff. The Bruce Robinson commentary alone would have made it worth while.
I guess in the end the reason I rate "Withnail and I" so highly, and why it has such a lasting effect on me is that there's such an underlying sadness to it. It's a hilariously funny film, but the sadness of it sort of slowly reveals itself. It's so subtle that it manages to sneak up on me every time. It's about these two friends finally going their separate ways, one with a future and one without. Many writers and directors would have forced that point, but Robinson doesn't want to beat us over the head. It's a movie that got into my head four and a half years ago and has been there ever since. Forget the desert island. This is the movie I'd need to have with me if I were stuck alone in a cottage having "gone on holiday by mistake."