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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I've got my "Dark Knight" IMAX tix!


That's right, I'm opening with exclamation points. The first feature film ever to be shot (partially) in IMAX is only going to be presented that way at obviously, IMAX theaters, which are sadly few and far between. Thankfully Seattle has one. And I am going on Saturday, July 19 at 6 PM. I'm really excited. My brother and his fam are in town that weekend and I'm really excited to see this movie the way Christopher Nolan intends. Can't wait to get a faceful of Joker!

"To them you're just a freak...Like me! HAAAA...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yes, it's another "Arrested Development" movie confirmation.

As an "Arrested Development" fanatic you may be surprised that I haven't done a post every single time one of the cast members has come out and said a movie is definitely on the way. I haven't simply because there's almost never anything new to the story. But when I read this I couldn't resist. Series creator Mitch Hurwitz apparently knows what he wants the film to be about. According to Jason Bateman it's just a matter of getting the money men to sign off. Come on guys, there's always money in the banana stand! This from MTV of all places:

Six months after teasing MTV with news that an "Arrested Development" movie was in the very earliest of stages, "Hancock" star Jason Bateman told an assembled crowd Tuesday night that the Bluths were almost certainly heading to the big screen — and boy will it be strange.

"It's typically bent and twisted," Bateman said of the story concocted by series mastermind Mitchell Hurwitz. "He's got a really, really good idea for the movie version that would not be just simply the equivalent of four episodes back to back to back. It's actually something that would be specific to the medium of film."

A bent and twisted script is exactly what devoted fans of the series would hope for and expect. After all, "Arrested Development," which was canceled in February 2006, introduced such topics as the Never Nude, the puppet Franklin Delano Bluth, and "a family friend with only one arm!"

Bateman smiled. "Who thinks up that [stuff]?"

So what's the holdup? Not Bateman, certainly. And not anyone else actually involved in the show, he insisted. It's the Bluths' biggest problem that threatens to delay the film indefinitely: money.

"We all want to do it. All the actors want to do it, the writers want to do it, and the boss wants to do it. And they are working on making a deal, probably as we speak," Bateman said. "But it's a long, sort of drawn-out, complicated business process. 'Arrested Development' is such a specific tone, it doesn't lend itself to mass appeal, as played out by the fact that it's canceled. So it has to be done for a price. They can't spend the money they spent on 'Hancock.'

"So they have to shoot it for a small price, and we have to figure out if we can do it for that price," he continued. "They're working it out, and hopefully we'll be able to know something in the next month."

In the meantime, keep the series alive, Bateman said — even if you do it by accosting him in the streets.

"When people come up to me [to talk about 'Arrested Development'], I'm right there with 'em," he laughed. "There's some narcissism in it!"


In case it needs to be said just one more time, animated films are not just for kids. Pixar repeatedly proves this through superior animation, superior storytelling, and by treating kids with respect. The themes in films like "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," and especially their newest, "WALL-E," are often new to kids but fully resonate with adults.
I grew up in the eighties and nineties when every cartoon I encountered was designed to sell me merchandise and fast food. "WALL-E" in notable for taking the opposite approach. To see a movie that shows kids you can't buy happiness in a truthful way is astounding.
Set 700 years in the future, the earth is a wasteland, and a little robot named WALL-E has been left to clean it up. He spends his days compacting trash, one cube at a time. He spends his nights all alone, watching old Hollywood musicals and dreaming of meeting someone, anyone, because he never has. Except for the cockroach. What he does know is that the earth was abandoned for what was meant to be a five year luxury cruise. As explained by the CEO of the Big'n'Large Corporation (Fred Willard) which owns everything, humanity would float in space indulging only in pleasure until the robots cleaned the planet and the humans could return. WALL-E is the last of these robots. But it's not long before another arrives. EVE is her name and WALL-E couldn't be happier. EVE has been designed to blow things up and is a warrior compared to the thoughtful and gentle WALL-E.
When they discover a tiny plant in the ground it's proof that the earth can sustain life once again. The two little robots meet up with the space cruiser to find the whole of humanity floating around the ship on recliners. Everyone is overweight, no one walks, and all day long the B'n'L Corp. is selling them happiness. The idea of a single corporation controlling everything and encouraging humans not to think is hardly new to sci-fi, but to see it in a movie that will be seen by almost every six year old in America is revolutionary.
Much is being made of the dark themes in "WALL-E." Of the view that people have given up caring about anything but themselves. But I saw an uplifting film that showed that when we're up against it, humans can achieve remarkable things through sheer determination. This is interwoven with a robo-love story with sparse dialogue that is far more involving for the audience than most human love stories.
"WALL-E" is a film much like its title character, overflowing with heart. Once again Pixar has raised the bar for animated films, visually and thematically. "Kung Fu Panda" is a lot of fun, but "WALL-E" is a film rich with ideas and imagination that will probably only improve with repeat viewings. Congratulations to director Andrew Stanton and sound designer (and voice of WALL-E) Ben Burtt. This is a film that will not soon be forgotten. 9/10. (Though with a second viewing I might bump this up to a 10.)
Also, don't miss the pre-feature short, "Presto."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

2 New Reviews

Kung Fu Panda- In recent years animated films have become increasingly more popular, more common, and more artistic. Pixar has led the way while several other animation studios have tried to play catch up. With "Kung Fu Panda" DreamWorks doesn't attain a Pixar-like level of greatness, but they've produced a movie that's far more enjoyable than their usual fare.
In what appears to be ancient China, a young Panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) dreams of being a kung fu master. In fact the opening scene is a hilarious dream sequence in which Po leads "the Furious Five" into battle against an army of thousands. Upon waking up Po must come down stairs to work for his father (who's actually a goose), serving up noodles to hungry crowds. This is not where Po wants to be for the rest of his life and certainly not on this day. An age old question will be answered when one of the Furious Five is chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy.
Po has a difficult time getting to the event but upon stumbling in he finds out he is in fact the chosen one. He must immediately begin training with Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) to defeat the much feared Tai Lung (Ian McShane). The problem is Shifu does not believe in the bumbling Po and wants him to quit.
It's not difficult to discern how the rest of the film unfolds from here. "Kung Fu Panda" doesn't win any points for story originality but it's a lot of fun and Jack Black is clearly having a great time voicing Po. He brings an enthusiasm to the film that is infectious. I also liked his relationships with Shifu and the Furious Five. Typically in films such as this he would end up gradually winning over all of them at the same rate. Here he wins over one or two at a time. It's a nice little touch that I wasn't expecting and as we get to know the characters through the film it makes sense.
"Kung Fu Panda" is a very enjoyable movie that really does have something to offer to children and adults. It is currently in wide release. 7/10.

The Happening- I am not a knee jerk M. Night Shyamalan apologist. Yes I did very much like "The Sixth Sense," "Unbreakable," and "Signs." I even thought "The Village" was a decent film, even if it falls to pieces at the end. But "Lady in the Water" was horrendous tripe and one of my most loathed films of the past few years. I feared "The Happening" might somehow manage to be worse. I suspected I might end up referring to it as "The Crappening." The real twist this time isn't the ending, it's that this movie is actually pretty good. Not in a serious minded "Sixth Sense" way, but in a silly B-movie that you can't take too seriously sort of way.
In a genuinely chilling opening sequence we see New Yorkers inexplicably freeze, walk backwards, and find any means available to them to commit suicide. Cut to a Philadelphia classroom where high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) is telling his class about the disappearance of honey bees throughout much of the country. He tells the kids that the answer to this question will never be fully understood and that there are forces at work beyond our comprehension.
The events in New York have sent the entire northeast into a panic. Not knowing if they are the result of a terrorist attack or not, large cities are emptying in droves and Philadelphia is no exception. Along with his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) and his best friend (John Leguizamo) who's bringing along his daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez), Elliot heads for the country and what he hopes will be safety. But wherever people go the mysterious plague follows.
As I said in the opening paragraph, "The Happening" is a silly B sci-fi horror movie. When the explanation for the events is revealed (thankfully not in a twist ending) it comes across as being utterly ridiculous and stupid. But in the world of this film utterly ridiculous and stupid just manages to add to the fun. Wahlberg and Deschanel have taken some hits for their performances in this movie but they're acting like they're in a B-movie. They know what they're doing here.
"The Happening" has some groan inducing moments to be sure and Shyamalan's attempt to make a real statement wrapped up in the B-movie package doesn't come off, but he's given us quite an entertaining hour and a half of film with some sequences that inspire true chills.
Of course there's always the chance I'm completely wrong and Shyamalan has tried to make a serious film and has failed miserably. But honestly I don't believe that to be the case. The question is am I the only one? "The Happening" is currently in wide release. 7/10.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" trailer: FINALLY in English!

The last time Brad Pitt and director David Fincher teamed up it was for a little film called "Fight Club." Before that it was for "Se7en." Now they're back together for a movie that looks vastly different but promises to be every bit as great. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is coming this December but I want to see it this minute.
The first time I saw this trailer before "Indiana Jones" I actually had tears in my eyes. From a trailer! This will probably end up being the best film of 2008.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I REALLY Miss Lou.

Yes this is a baseball blog post. My O's are 31-30. Not bad but nowhere near contending. Last Saturday I went to the first Mariners game I'd been to since I saw them beat the Montreal Expos in 2004. That's right the last game I went to included a team that no longer exists. But last Saturday somehow the Mariners magically won 5-0 over the Detroit Tigers. In that game Detroit manager Jim Leyland was ejected for arguing (correctly I might add) a call at first base. I've always liked Leyland but the man didn't do anything exciting. He didn't pick up first base and throw it. He didn't even kick any dirt. Come on, Leyland!
The Mariners at 22-40 now have officially the worst record in Major League Baseball. But it's made all the worse when the manager meltdown is as pathetic as this. Behold the fury of John McLaren. I REALLY miss Lou.

Now to wash that out of your mouth here is a meltdown from the man himself, Mr. Lou Piniella. I can't believe I couldn't find one where he actually throws a base but this is pretty awesome. By the way the Cubs currently have the best record in all of baseball.

And finally to honor my O's, quite possibly the greatest meltdown of all-time. Keep in mind that when Earl Weaver lost his mind in this 1981 game it was after only five pitches.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Most Underrated Man in Show Business

Decades before reality TV grabbed hold of American culture Albert Brooks was skewering it. With 1979's "Real Life" Brooks made a film as funny as it was ahead of its time. His style is one of a kind but he remains obscure to much of the world. He also understands the fine art of the trailer. Here is, for my money, maybe the best trailer in movie history. Not one frame of the actual film appears but it perfectly illustrates the character Brooks plays in "Real Life," an utterly ridiculous version of himself. Grab your 3-D glasses!

The Visitor

Richard Jenkins is an actor you know. You may not know the name but he's appeared in films as varied as "Me, Myself, and Irene," "The Man Who Wasn't There," and "I Heart Huckabees." He's continuing that tradition by showing up in the soon to be released films "Step Brothers" and "Burn After Reading." But with "The Visitor" Jenkins finally gets his chance to be a leading man and he makes the most of his opportunity.
Writer-director Tom McCarthy, whose previous film was the wonderful but sadly little seen "The Station Agent," returns with this tale of disaffected Connecticut professor Walter Vale (Jenkins). We learn early on that Vale's wife is dead and that he is coasting through life just hoping to blend into the background. He seems unable to connect with anyone and his attempt to learn to play the piano isn't working out either.
Walter's life is turned upside down one evening as he walks into his New York City apartment he hasn't been to in years. There he finds a married immigrant couple who claim the apartment was rented out to them by a man Walter does not know. When each realizes the other is telling the truth, the couple leaves peaceably and Walter graciously accepts that this was a simple misunderstanding. But Walter's inherent goodness, which he probably hasn't displayed in years, gets the better of him and he invites the couple to stay with him.
The couple, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Jekesai Gurira), are kindly and just trying to survive. Walter slowly finds himself connecting to them and to the world around him when Tarek shows him to play the bongo drums. But soon another misunderstanding sends their worlds into a tailspin.
"The Visitor" is a quiet film that gives its actors a chance to shine. Jenkins brings more than just quiet dignity to the role of Walter. The character's subtle transformation is played just right. The unknown Sleiman and Gurira are terrific as well and hopefully we'll be seeing much more of them in the future.
McCarthy's second film is much more serious minded than "The Station Agent." Neither film is really a comedy but where "The Station Agent" was a lighter drama, "The Visitor" is a film with something to say, occasionally with a slightly heavy hand. It's not as enjoyable as "Agent" but that was probably McCarthy's intention.
"The Visitor" is a very good, very moving, and very thought provoking movie. It's not playing everywhere but it may be easier to find than you'd think. Currently it's playing in Seattle at the Harvard Exit and in Lynnwood at the Alderwood 7. 8/10.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Indiana Jones and Bob's Childhood.

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" came out the year before I was born. I was two when "Temple of Doom" was released. But in the summer of 1989 when "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" hit theaters I was seven years old and thus the perfect age for a big screen adventure with Indy. I remember seeing it twice in the theater and I couldn't have loved it more. It's one of those experiences I'll never forget and even though "Raiders" is the best of the series, "Last Crusade" is the film I get really nostalgic about. I found these videos taken from "The Today Show" in 1989 the week before "Last Crusade's" release. Pretty cool stuff. It's really interesting to hear how much Ford and Spielberg say this is it. This is the last one. I'm really glad they changed their minds.
Bryant Gumbel is such a doofus.

Saw "Indy" again.

Even more fun the second time around. The movie's just a blast. I immediately got home and ate a nice mid-afternoon bowl of Indiana Jones cereal. Adjusted score for "Crystal Skull": 8/10.