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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Won't You Give to the McLovin Fund?

Kristen Bell (whom you may know better as Sarah Marshall or even more importantly, Veronica Mars) wants you to give generously to the McLovin Fund. Come on, people! What would your summer have been without McLovin? I don't want to know. It's time to give back:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Neglected Classics.

Due to the extreme lack of films in 2008 that I would refer to as...good, I believe is the word, I thought I'd review a couple of classic films you might have missed. First up is "Ed Wood," Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's second, and best, pairing. I'm always amazed by how many Depp and Burton fans have missed the best movie either of them has made.
The second is "Charade," which paired the two biggest stars in movie history, Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.

Ed Wood- After his death in 1978, Edward D. Wood, Jr. was crowned the “worst director of all-time.” This hardly seems a fitting tribute to a man with imagination, ambition, and optimism until one remembers he had no talent to speak of. As bad as his movies are however, one cannot help but admire Wood. His love of film and his childlike innocence shine through “Glen or Glenda” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” widely considered his “masterpiece.” Wood’s work endures because unlike most bad movies, his are never boring. They’re completely awful yet absolutely mesmerizing. He also managed to influence generations of filmmakers, most notably Tim Burton.
It’s only fitting that Burton was the man to tell Wood’s story. Guided by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski’s wonderful script, Burton’s film has the structure of a standard biopic but the tone of a comic fantasy, aided in no small part by the beautiful black and white cinematography and Howard Shore’s musical score (my favorite ever).
“Ed Wood” opens in the early fifties when Ed (Johnny Depp) is a struggling playwright. Thanks to an unlikely friendship with screen legend Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau), he’s able to convince film producer George Weiss (Mike Starr) to let him into the director’s chair. The resulting film was “Glen or Glenda,” a shamelessly autobiographical film about Ed’s love of angora and dressing in women’s clothes, something that his girlfriend, Dolores Fuller (Sarah Jessica Parker) has a problem with. Still, Dolores stands by Ed to play the female lead in the movie.
Due to the complete disaster of “Glen or Glenda,” Ed must finance his next film himself. Through making “Bride of the Monster,”- probably the least incompetent of Wood’s movies- Ed assembles a crew of loyal friends who help bring his visions to life. They stay with him through “Plan 9,” “the ultimate Ed Wood movie.”
While watching “Ed Wood” you know deep down that events didn’t really unfold the way they’re presented in the film, but you wouldn’t want it any other way. Burton’s film is a loving ode to a man who probably really wasn’t the worst director of all-time. It is to the film’s credit that we stay on Ed’s side throughout. Depp (in his best performance) infuses Ed with wonder and optimism. No matter how bad his movies are, we wish him the best and hope that things will work out. Sadly for Ed, they never did, but the movie ends before his life really goes downhill.
Burton’s track record is not the most stable but when he’s good, he’s great. “Ed Wood” is the finest example of this. Landau deservedly won a 1994 Oscar for his work as the aging Lugosi. There are also great performances from Bill Murray and Jeffrey Jones in small roles. This is one of my favorite movies and one I enjoy watching regularly. For fans of Burton and Depp “Ed Wood” is essential.

Charade- It’s been called “the greatest Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made.” This is actually a great disservice to Stanley Donen’s 1963 film, as it’s a lot more fun than anything Hitchcock ever directed.
“Charade” opens with a dead man being tossed from a train which leads into the sort of colorful opening credits sequence films of the sixties are known for. We then meet Regina Lampert (Audrey Hepburn), an unhappy American living in Paris with plans to divorce her husband, Charles. Upon arriving home one afternoon she discovers everything is gone and as it turns out Charles was the man thrown from the train.
Much to Regina’s surprise Charles had several identities and had unsuspectingly left her in possession of $250,000 which belongs to the U.S. government. When she explains to CIA man Mr. Bartholomew (Walter Matthau) that she had no idea the money existed, nor does she have any idea where it could be, he tells her to look for it as she will be in grave danger until the cash is back in the government’s hands.
The men coming after her aren’t the least bit shy about threatening her life. Played by James Coburn, George Kennedy, and Ned Glass each brings menace to their respective roles. Her greatest ally becomes a man who calls himself Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). But there may be more to Mr. Joshua than he’s letting on.
“Charade” is about as entertaining as a movie can be. It boasts a script by Peter Stone that genuinely keeps you guessing and that features some of the sharpest and funniest dialogue ever written. Director Stanley Donen (“Singin’ in the Rain”) keeps things moving along, trusting his actors to bring the film to life. It doesn’t hurt that Hepburn and Grant play the leads. As movie stars of any age go, you really couldn’t do any better. Regina is a character who’s completely vulnerable yet never loses her head and Hepburn plays it perfectly. Cary Grant meanwhile shows once more why he is still one of the most beloved stars in movie history. No actor before or since has shown a greater ability to instantly win an audience over simply by walking into frame. Soon after “Charade,” Grant retired from acting and film became poorer for it.
Young or old, for a fun night in with a movie you can’t top “Charade.”

Let's hope 2008 picks up, but if it doesn't I'll be back with a few more of these.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Leatherheads" and "Snow Angels"

Leatherheads- George Clooney has been dubbed "the last movie star." I don't agree with that statement but I will say that in the right role, Clooney can shine brightly. I'm not talking about his award winning work in high minded films like "Syriana" and "Michael Clayton." I'm talking about fast talking screwballs like Ulysses Everett McGill in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" It's the kind of character Clooney does best. Based on this and my love of the snappy dialogue of films like "His Girl Friday," I was very excited for "Leatherheads."
In a wonderful opening sequence, Clooney the director shows us the spectacle that was college football in 1925 followed by the decidedly unspectacular world of pro football in 1925. At least the cow on the sidelines seems entertained.
Clooney plays Dodge Connelly (yes, he spells it wrong), "the slickest operator in Duluth," and star player of the Bulldogs. With the team on the verge of bankruptcy he and his teammates face the frightening probability that they will all have to work square jobs for the rest of their lives. In a desperate bid to save the team Dodge convinces college star and World War I hero Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) to play for pay. In 1925 this isn't as easy as it sounds. Still Carter joins the professional ranks and his star brightly outshines Dodge's. Meanwhile, a journalist named Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) is out to prove that the story of Carter's war heroics is nothing but a fabrication. To do this she must get close to Carter. But Dodge has a play to make too.
Written by first timers Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly (with an uncredited re-write by Clooney), "Leatherheads" is a likable look at football in the '20s but it's not nearly as funny as it ought to be. There is the occasional screwball moment but Clooney doesn't come close to his amazing work in "O Brother." He and Zellweger are decent together but they never catch fire and unfortunately they're not Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. The film's best moments are when the two are joined on screen by Krasinski. The three of them together really make a few scenes fly. Krasinski's natural likability keeps the audience on his side throughout, even if that's not where Clooney really wants us to be. It's a reasonably fun movie but ultimately a disappointment. For screwball laughs on the big screen I'd say the better bet is "Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day." 6.5/10.

Snow Angels- Not to be confused with the uplifting "Snow Cake," this is a thoroughly depressing film that while very good, I'll never want to watch again. Admittedly I'd never seen a David Gordon Green film prior to this one but my guess is that they're all equally if not more bleak.
In the opening scene we see a high school band practice interrupted by the sound of far away gun fire. No one on screen is in danger but when the next scene is accompanied by the caption, "Weeks earlier," we know that "Snow Angels" is not headed for a happy ending. In fact there's very little about this film that offers joy. It certainly doesn't come from the life of Annie (Kate Beckinsale), a frustrated single mother working in a Chinese restaurant. Her two best friends are co-workers, Barb (Amy Sedaris) and Arthur (Michael Angarano), a high school student she used to babysit. Her ex-husband Glenn (Sam Rockwell) is struggling but it looks as though he may finally be getting his life together, and if this were any other film he might.
The sense that everything is headed somewhere dark and tragic permeates each scene, even the rare lighter ones. The way each character relates to one another is continually intriguing because throughout the film we learn more about their pasts and how these people have connected.
"Snow Angels" is the sort of film that really gives actors a chance to act. Rockwell adds another stunning performance to his already sterling resume. His Glenn is a man falling apart and each attempt to pull himself backs together only makes things worse. Beckinsale gives a terrific, understated performance. She's able to earn the audience's sympathy in spite of Annie's glaring shortcomings. The real revelation here though is Angarano. Previously I'd only seen him play the younger versions of main characters. He had probably less than fifteen minutes of combined screen time in "Almost Famous" and "Seabiscuit," playing the young Patrick Fugit and Tobey Maguire respectively. Here he's in the whole film and he does a wonderful job as a young man trying to make sense of the world around him.
"Snow Angels" won't make you feel good about humanity but you will be able to say you saw a good movie, and that's more than I can say for most of what's come out in 2008. 8/10.

Also, I don't mention music here as much as I ought to, but I have to say that I'm about to O.D. on "Keep Your Eyes Ahead" by the Helio Sequence. It's a really amazing album. Big thanks to Brandon for a great b-day gift!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

Well, as you may or may not know today I am 26. Things have been a little crazy for me of late but I'm not going to get into that here. It's my birthday, I want to enjoy myself, and that is exactly what I will do. What better way to do that than with some cool TV and movie news? Okay, well that's what makes ME happy. And it's my birthday. First off, both Dark Horizons and Reel Fanatic have given the heads up on this incredibly awesome news. This from Reel Fanatic (and no, this is not like my Michael Bay's "Lawrence" April Fools's the real deal):

"Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the comedy masterminds behind "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," will join forces again for a third film, to be titled "The World's End." Though I don't know anything about the plot beyond the title, judging from their first two very funny films I'd have to guess this one will be a spoof on/valentine to sci-fi flicks."

SWEEEEEEET!!! Also, in cool TV news, "Friday Night Lights" will return for a third season and NBC has confirmed that "Chuck" will be back for a second one. As for "Scrubs," it seems that ABC is picking it up next year even though this was supposed to be the final season. I'm confused. Hopefully we'll get some more definitive answers soon.

And now, since today is my birthday I thought I would post some videos that make me happy. Hopefully they'll make you happy too. Have a good I'll be seeing "Leatherheads" with the fam later today so I'm quite sure I will.

Coming to DVD for the first time this July 1, the funniest cartoon series I've ever known, "Freakazoid." It captured the loonyness of "Loony Toons" even more than the wonderful "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs" did, and that's saying something.

My all-time favorite comedy sketch, which is of course from Monty Python.

And finally, it's silly, it's self-explanatory. It's Peter O'Toole "delivering lines that are clearly beneath him." This kills me.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Michael Bay's "Lawrence of Arabia"

I just...I...I want to kill something. This from Brit Flick:

Nearly fifty years after the release of David Lean's epic film, "Lawrence of Arabia," Hollywood is taking another crack at it. Columbia Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer have commissioned Michael Bay, director of "Pearl Harbor" and "Bad Boys II" to "re-imagine" the story of the legendary Colonel T.E. Lawrence.
"It's one of the greatest stories ever told," said Bruckheimer. "It's the reason people get into filmmaking." Also, expect a more modern political edge to this Lawrence. "Given what's happening in the Middle East today, it only makes sense to re-examine Lawrence's story. To get the chance to re-tell it through today's lens is very exciting."
Originally portrayed by Peter O'Toole, Lawrence has not been officially cast as yet, though Johnny Depp is reportedly in talks to don the turban. In fact, none of the major roles have been officially filled yet, save Renee Zellweger as Lawrence's love interest.
"In the original film of course, there was no love story," explains Bruckheimer. "But we wanted to give today's audience something emotional to cling to." That won't be the only major change.
"I saw like part of it once on DVD at a friend's house," says Bay. "I was kind of buzzed and the sound was turned off, but I basically got the sense that this was really just about this guy riding this camel...and nothing ever happens. I thought, well this needs some action. So we're going to be doing a lot more battle scenes then the original film apparently has and we're doing it all on green screens. It's gonna be shot with a digital camera. I don't know why Dennis Lean didn't do that to start with. Apparently he shot it on 70 millimeter in the actual desert which seems ridiculous to me. I mean I guess it's admirable but really it's just stinks of amateurism."
This new "Lawrence" is set to begin filming this summer with a slated release of December of 2009 in the UK and US in hopes of claiming Oscar gold.

Welcome to April.