Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I review Odd Thomas, but can't get Robert R. McCammon's awesome book Stinger out of my head

So I used to read a lot of books. Not so much now, though the last book I read was the first book of The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and now I may never know what happens with the vampires and such because I can’t bring myself to sit down and take in a book! Oh well.

            Back in high school I read all of Dean Koontz’s existing books. He had such awesome stories: Watchers (about a human serial killer and a genetic monster on a collision course with a smarter than usual dog and the man he finds who in turn falls in love with a woman who gets more than she ever thought possible by falling in love with this man and his strange dog – and that’s just off the top of my head about a book I read over almost 20 years ago now), Lightning ( a time traveler falls in love with a wheel chair bound girl while he fights Nazis), Phantoms (a town left almost entirely empty except for a handful of people who have to work together to fight the supernatural creature that disappeared everyone), great characters and great action, but his stories were complex – which is why, I believe, his books are not turned into very good movies. Watchers was a direct to video movie starring Corey Haim and was vastly different from the book, Phantoms had a pretty big and decent cast but the story was too big to try and match so they went small and it failed.

            It’s weird, but in their prime, Stephen King and Dean Koontz were both great, and though for me Stephen King began to slip first, they both kind of lost favor from me around the same time. (I would feel it a disrespect when talking about Dean and Stephen to not mention Robert R. McCammon, his books probably surpassed both Stephen and Dean in my eyes. His stories were like pulp fiction to me, even his epic Swan Song was just so, I don’t know, all of his books were like graphic novels without the pictures – if that makes sense? Fast paced, and still interesting, kind of like all his books were written with the intention of them being made into movies. God how I loved Stinger. I never lost interest in McCammon, it was me who had changed this time. I read Gone South – a great book, but by the time he decided to write and publish a story again – some 10 years later – I’d lost all interest in reading (Hopefully only for the time being, though. Maybe I should find my copy of Stinger and check that book out again.).)

            I can’t recall the last book I read by Dean but I remember it felt a lot like the majority of his books, as Stephen King’s books had started to feel. I knew the Odd books were out there but for whatever reason, I wasn’t into it any more.

            I was surprised to see the trailer for Odd Thomas. A Dean Koontz book that was getting a pretty big budget and advertising push? This was something new. Then I never heard anything more about it, and the next thing I know it’s on Netflix. I will never understand the blind luck that Stephen King got by having his books being made into movies while Dean Koontz couldn’t.

            My wife did not like it. She said she didn’t hate it, she just didn’t like it. Her main thing was that Anton Yelchin seemed too old for his female costar, Addison Timlin, also, her character – to quote my wife – was “stupid”. She did seem a bit chirpy and bubbly and, okay, annoying maybe, but I didn’t have a problem seeing her and Anton together. My main problem was the fact that Nico Totorella was in the movie, and if you watch The Following (the first season streaming on Netflix, and I think it’s a pretty good show) then you’ll know right away when you see him that – and it’s not giving much away because this movie still has plenty of surprises – that he’s the bad guy in this movie too. He hasn’t worked enough to be in a movie and me to wonder if he’s a bad guy or not, if he’s in the movie, he’s the bad guy.

            So anyway, the movie – I thought – was pretty good. It is definitely too “cutesy” at times, and I feel that’s stuff from the book (I may not have read this book but I have read enough of Dean’s books to know what’s his and what’s not, if you’ve read the book let me know if the cute stuff of Odd cooking at the diner is in the book or not) that could have been taken out, and the banter between Odd and Stormy (yeah, Stormy) was horrible and just not needed! It was irritating how out of place and forced it all felt. The monsters in the movie were very good, though, and really made up for anything cute going on. The sense of impending doom was perfectly captured by the creatures that begin to swarm the whole town, the effects of the monsters, just everything about them were great, and the way Odd had to act as though he couldn’t see them for fear of them killing him off created one or two very humorous moments.

            My wife said I should rate movies one way, and then the ending of movies another, and this would be a perfect example. The movie was okay, the ending was awesome, the build up to the catastrophe and then . . . well . . .

            I was borderline Liked It/Really Liked It, but in the end I Loved It.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Streaming 4/29 and 4/30 of 2014: Freedomland and Diana

4/29: Freedomland. I vaguely remember the previews for this movie and that it looked interesting but never really heard anything more about it. From 2006, it’s never too late to check out a movie with Julianne Moore in it.

4/30: Diana, a movie from last year about Princess Di. Being an American male, I never really followed the royal family, and let’s all be honest right now and admit that there is no way on Earth Princess Diana ever – EVER – looked as good as Naomi Watts. That would be like asking George Clooney to play Steve Buscemi in a movie about Buscemi’s life. I’ll check Diana out because of Naomi Watts and . . . nope, that’s the only reason.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quentin Dupieux has 3 movies streaming now: this is Rubber

 I like weird movies.
            I have no problem with weird movies. I enjoy most of David Lynch’s movies, and for the most part I’d consider his movies weird. The story . . . the characters . . . his movies are just weird, and like everything there’s a spectrum when it comes to weird movies and David Lynch pretty much owns it. You have Twin Peaks weird: weird characters but a pretty straight forward story, then you have his Inland Empire which is too weird for me, and in the middle of it all is Lost Highway, Eraserhead, etc. It’s a fine balance between story, characters, and style, and when they all click you get Eraserhead, even the Coen brothers’ movies like Raising Arizona, or Barton Fink, are weird movies that are perfect in every way.

So like I said, I like weird movies. I did not like Rubber –
I actually rated it on Netflix as hating it.

            Rubber starts off with a speech about popular movies and how they all have a thing; a character, a plot point that has no reason for being there. It’s a humorous speech, and it’s an interesting set up for a movie that is apparently centered on the whole “No Reason” thing of all movies. There’s no missing the point, what you’re about to see – a movie about a killer tire – is the epitome of “No Reason”. The main problem with the experiment (because that’s what this movie feels like, an experimental film) is that I began to wonder: Why watch the movie at all? None of it has a reason, none of it has a point, and in turn there is no reason or point in me watching this movie, other than to see a tire roll around killing things and people. I guess some may see that as a reason to watch a movie, and even though I did watch this movie, I fail to see the reason for me doing so (I did, so you wouldn’t have to).

            Of course it can’t just be a string of scenes of the tire killing people, so the movie mixes in other things, the only problem is that those other things are more interesting than the main plot of the movie.

            The group of people in the desert watching the tire, and their comments and the man hosting their viewing party are all much more interesting than the tire they are watching. A group of people in the desert watching horrible things happen regular people is an interesting set up, except that what they’re watching isn’t interesting.

            The movie is short but still not short enough, and I think that were this a short film it would be a lot better. The story is not something that could hold a whole movie, but somehow it got made, and for all the negative points about the movie the one positive is that it is original and pretty well made and the actors all do a pretty good job.

It’s an interesting first film, just not a good one,

but still I’d check out more from the people behind this one.

The final The Killing episodes to air on Netflix on August 1. Yea to us! Boo to the killer.

Why does a show that gets better the longer it’s on TV have to leave? Man the first season was tough, a dry and intense struggle to . . . nowhere with pretty much nothing having been wrapped up at the end. The second season was more of what was good about the first season, and then the third season, which was better than the first two and stands completely on its own so that one who knows nothing of previous seasons could easily sit through it and keep up with what was going on. The ending of the third season was bat-shit crazy/awesome that I told my wife that’s why there won’t be any more episodes of The Killing – because of that right there. I mean, what do you do after something like that? Well, we’re about to find out . . . on August 1. Can’t wait.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

G.I. Joe sequel is what you expect, Insidious Chapter 2 is less than expected

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) Poster
These two movies are being reviewed as sequels, and because of that, I have to take into account the previous movies. I point this out for the simple fact that though they end up being rated the same, in the long run the Joe movie would be the clear winner as not being as bad as Insidious Chapter 2. Standing alone then of course Insidious Chapter 2 would be the winner, but alas it is a sequel.

            I am a child of the 80’s. I grew up playing with G.I. Joe toys, and more than that I was an avid comic book collector of G.I. Joe initially, as well as C.O.P.S. and though I have no idea how I got into it I apparently bought every issue (and still have) of Yukinobu Hoshin’s 2001 Nights.

            The current G.I. Joe movies are a mystery because I don’t know who they are for. Are they for me, an adult male, or a teen-age kid (since the movie is PG-13) or a grade school kid, which was the age I was when I played with G.I. Joes so I’m assuming that is still the same now-a-days. The movie is a bit too violent for grade school kids, so mostly the movie would be for teens (who have all manner of super hero movies to choose from that are much more well known than G.I. Joe) or adults who would most likely not want to lay down hard earned money for a movie that they will probably not feel is worth it. That’s assuming they’d even admit they wanted to see the movie. Nostalgic sake, okay, maybe, but I would love to see the man who drags his wife to see G.I. Joe Retaliation and in all seriousness is anxious and excited to see what sort of amazing adventure the Joes are going to go on this time – could it be as good, if not better, than the first movie? – because I do not know this man, nor do I believe he exists.

            So I don’t know who would see this in the theatre, but I know who would watch it on Netflix streaming. Me. A movie I know is not really for me, I know I will not Love It, and it’s safe to say I’m not gonna Really Like It, and assuming it doesn’t completely screw up, I’ll probably Like It, but very well could just as easily Not Like It.

Rachel Nichols Actress's Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols and Karolina Kurkova pose for a photograph on HMS Belfast after arriving on a Royal Marine RIB during a photocall to launch 'G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra' on July 22, 2009 in London, England.
You're not gonna bring these girls back
but you'll put The Rock and Bruce Willis
in it? 
            I don’t recall much of the first movie other than it had a bunch of people, not the least of which was Chirstopher Eccleston who is always great, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is also great but bordering on annoying with how cool and popular he is. The first one also had Sienna Miller and Dennis Quaid and Rachel Nichols, all of who played popular G.I. Joes, and all of which are simply not in the sequel (and I say “simply” because it is never really explained why they’re not there. Dead? Missing? On a mission? Who cares? The audience probably, wondering where the entire cast – and the characters for that matter – went to). The first movie felt like a G.I. Joe movie because of the fact that there were so many ties to the toys and the cartoon; Destro, Cobra Commander, all that stuff – this movie, the sequel, does not feel like a G.I. Joe movie.

It feels like an action movie with the title G.I. Joe slapped on it.

            G.I. Joe didn’t have the easiest villains to transfer to a “realistic” movie such as the kind the last two were trying to be. Cobra Commander first wears a black hood, and then later has a shield for a face, and Destro’s head is metallic, or silver (let’s just be thankful they didn’t decide to show us Serpentor); and even the Joes have Snake Eyes, a hero who is probably the baddest of them all, and very popular, but he wears a mask the entire time and doesn’t even talk. You know, listing stuff like this makes me think that one could do a psychological profile of said cartoon’s affect on the children watching it, so many characters with physical damage that causes them to wear masks, as well as psychological damage that could also lead to them wearing masks but also keep them from talking, and all of them hiding behind crazy weapons.

            I will never understand why – when making G.I. Joe into a movie – they didn’t use Springfield, the whole Cobra town that looks all perfect and is in fact a front for the enemy, that always creeped me out and I think were it addressed in a movie today could be done in a truly creepy and awesome way.

            But no, we’ll just make a vehicle for Damon Wayans and Channing Tatum and then follow that movie up with another movie vehicle for The Rock and Bruce Willis. Oh, okay.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) PosterI loved the first Insidious. My wife, who loves horror movies, didn’t care for it nearly as much as I did. I was really into it, for whatever reason, so was anxious to see the second one, and very happy to see it streaming.

            Of course I was disappointed after I watched it, why wouldn’t I be? I think at this point if I see a movie and am totally blown away by how awesome it was I’ll be disappointed a little bit by the fact that I wasn’t disappointed instead.

Seriously, where are all the good streaming movies now-a-days (I actually finally saw 2 movies I loved, but that’s for another time)?

            I am a huge fan of Patrick Wilson. The guy is a great actor as so far has not been in a bad movie, and though yes, this movie wasn’t as good as the first one, it is still a decent movie. Rose Byrne is a great actress (I keep meaning to check her out in Damages) and I’m a huge fan because of 28 Weeks Later which is a great sequel that is equal too and at times even better than the original. I’m also a fan of James Wan because of his movie Death Sentence – that is probably one of the best revenge movies I’ve seen – but I also did enjoy Saw, a great movie that did not need a sequel and I feel has been hurt because of them. On its own, though, Saw is a good tense horror movie.

            Yes all of them return for the sequel, and the story has been set up for a continuation that looks as though it will work, like we’re being prepared for more of the same, and then when it’s delivered it’s different. Not bad, just not what I was expecting.
Bring this guy back, he's way more scary
than the ghost they chose for the sequel.
            I told my wife the movie felt like a Scooby Doo mystery, which wasn’t a bad thing, really, it’s just that it wasn’t scary – at all. It was interesting enough while they solve the mystery of the ghost and all, but it wasn’t scary; and the worst part was that it had everyone from the first one, but whatever made the first one a good scary movie just wasn’t there. I wouldn’t even say this movie was creepy, the whole story of the main ghost and connection with the boy was as close to creepy as the movie got, and it was good but it just did not have the same hooks in me as the first movie did. Maybe it was the lack of ghosts that the first had plenty of, I don’t know, all I know is that it just didn’t work this time.

            I know sequels aren’t generally as good as the original, and when the main problem with a sequel is that it wasn’t as good as the first one, I guess that’s not really an attack on the movie so much as an attack on the sequel – if you can see that the two are different. If not, what are you doing reading this at all, much less this far?

            Insidious Chapter 2 was a good movie, a good mystery, but not a good horror movie and since it is a sequel to a horror movie, it’s a bad sequel. Look, the first G.I. Joe was an action movie that set up another action movie, and that’s what we got. The first Insidious was a horror movie that set up another horror movie – but that’s not what we got, we got a mystery.

That doesn’t work, sorry.    

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sarcasm, you are alive and well in my excitement of the new Shia LeBeowulf movie Charlie Countryman, which is now streaming.

Charlie Countryman (2013) PosterIf you’re like me then you love – LOVE – Shia LeBoof. The man is an artistic genius with talent and nobility and humility that rivals none. If you’re like me then you’ve been a fan of Shia’s since Project Greenlight – some Ben Affleck and Matt Damon reality series, wasn’t it? If I remember right a movie with Shia was on that show and I just remember he was a kid and cussing like he just learned what the words meant. If you’re like me then you will jump at the chance to see Charlie Countryman which is now streaming.

If you’re like me then you know I’m kidding.

Vincent D’Onofrio also stars (the man is a genius and I will see anything he’s in, even if it has Shia LeBoof), Rupert Grint from some Harry Potter movies(?), James Buckley who I loved in The Inbetweeners which the series and the movie are both streaming and if you like awkward British teen humour then check it out (think Peep Show for teens). And Evan Rachel Wood, who I expect to still like after watching her probably get it on with the Boof.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Netflix To Increase Prices

Netflix will be raising their prices by a “one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only,” said CEO Reed Hastings. Those who are customers already will stay at their currently monthly rates “for a generous time period.”

Any price increase ain’t good – ever, but should we begin to see what our money is going towards (new shows, new movies, quicker new releases streaming?) then the sting is that much less painful.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Review How To Be A Man but I really wanna review Roger Dodger, and Megan Neuringer and Elizabeth Berkley are like different sides of the same sexy coin.

How to Be a Man (2013) Poster
I Liked It
How To Be A Man is true to itself, and true to the main character, played by Gavin McInnes, who is an idiot/douche, who thinks he’s dying and so sets about video recording tips and suggestions for his child who he will not be around to help in person. Several people throughout the movie mention the Michael Keaton movie with the same premise, and this put the movie in a positive light for me because it wasn’t pretending to be something it wasn’t – original. Much like previous horror movies who take the whole zombie plot and give it a new spin even though they amount to nothing but the same, this is better because it tells you right up front what it’s doing, it’s taking an old formula and giving to you again – just that this time it’s gonna have dicks and tits.
This movie is nothing new, and it is fine with that and it doesn’t care if you are or not.

            If this movie wanted to really blow me away it would have mentioned how it was also similar to the far superior movie Rodger Dodger, which is also streaming, and is a great movie. The plot of Rodger Dodger centers around an older man teaching his younger nephew tips and theories on the best ways to pick up women, which is what How To Be A Man turns into – to very little surprise. The minute the young kid is hired to man the camera for the main character it’s pretty obvious where the story’s going.

            From the first few minutes of How To Be A Man (HTBAM), with the character talking to the camera and then standing to show his penis, you know that for the most part things in this movie won’t be terribly funny – unless you think that kind of stuff is funny. I ain’t got nothing against the man’s penis, just the set up for the joke was so obvious that it stops being funny. It’s gotta be pretty funny if you’re expecting it – and it happens – and you still laugh – that’s something funny. This guy’s penis ain’t that funny, nudity in general ain’t that funny with such a long set up. The opposite of this is later in the movie when the guy and his young twenty something camera man approach a group of kids who are picking on a lone boy – the kids instantly attack the older man and his camera man, and it is so quick with such a brief set up that it is very funny.

The movie does at times make you laugh, just not nearly as enough as it wants to.

I'm not just saying this because I have
a thing for girls with glasses, but she
can totally beat up Elizabeth Berkley
            The main flaw with the movie that weighs down any positive is the forgiveness that is given the main character for cheating on his pregnant wife – all just because he thought he was dying. The wife is someone who steals the show every time she’s on the screen, so to have her character suddenly no longer as strong as she is in the rest of the movie is really rather jarring. Throughout the movie, though, the main character guy is believable in how stupid and idiotic he is that when he gives his reason for why he thought he was dying it’s pretty believable that yeah, I could see a guy like that thinking and acting in that way. He’s a moron who takes everyone around him for granted, totally believable – it’s just not believable that his wife would put up with it.

I wanna talk about Roger Dodger.

Roger Dodger (2002) Poster
I Loved It
Roger Dodger is the better movie, and though HTBAM doesn’t even try to be like Roger Dodger (because it knows it can’t compete) I couldn’t help but think about Roger Dodger during the whole thing and because of that I wanna talk about it.

            I saw Roger Dodger when it came out to rent back in 2002; I saw it because Campbell Scott is a great actor and because he was in the stellar The Spanish Prisoner, and because of that I will forever see anything with the man in it, and it just so happens that it was Jesse Eisenberg’s first movie. Depending on your feelings towards Jesse I think that will determine your taste towards this movie – but it shouldn’t. He’s a cocky dick head? He’s a great actor? Either way, this was made before people had any opinion on him at all, and after this movie – that was the only opinion you had on him – I don’t think anyone would have a negative thought about him. He is amazing in this movie, taking a back seat to Campbell Scott’s trainings and tips on how to pick up women and just be an all around weasel with women.
            It sounds dull, but the acting and the movie is fast and the acting is great and the characters are interesting. The stand out for me was Elizabeth Berkeley who shows in this movie that she can act. She doesn’t have a large part, but what she does have in this movie she completely makes it hers and almost steals the movie from the male leads. She is a breath of fresh air with her familiarity while at the same time being someone completely new because she seems to be so at ease in this movie playing her character. She is like a guiding light for everyone in this movie, but everyone seems to be lost in their characters, no matter how small.
Because of Roger Dodger 2 facts are
evident, yes she is beautiful and yes
she can act.

            I think both movies are a testament to the importance of the characters surrounding the main characters. They are supporting characters for a reason, and in movies like these I don’t think it’s an accident that the key supporting characters are women. In both instances, it’s the women in these movies that make the main characters not just likable, but believable, and even enjoyable. Elizabeth Berkeley’s character may be in the movie for only a fraction of the time, but she is there long enough to make us enjoy the men we’re spending time with – even though we really shouldn’t be enjoying them – and she has enough presence (possibly dare I say talent? Yes I do say it and I don’t care who knows! I say because of this movie I feel Elizabeth Berkeley can act, and can do a pretty damn good job of it at that.) and talent to make it look natural – which I believe is what makes her so beautiful in this movie. Unlike the writing of HTBAM which makes the main character’s wife suddenly have an unbelievable change of heart – did I mention she was pregnant? Can you imagine the emotions and hormones going on at that time, and she just suddenly takes her cheating husband back? If this ain’t a sci-fi fantasy, then this ain’t happenin’.

            Roger Dodger may be missing the few jokes that How To Be A Man has, but Roger Dodger has so much more heart and sincerity that it puts the other movie to shame. You want to watch a movie about life? About an older man trying to teach important life lessons to his younger friend? Watch both of these movies – but definitely take notes during Roger Dodger.