Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Last Five Movies

I know it's well past Halloween, but, for some reason, I'm watching nothing but horror movies. What I've watched recently:

Paranormal Activity (2009)
So, this is the movie that everyone's talking about; the movie that made everyone crap their pants; the most successful independent movie ever. Is it worth the hype? Well...not really. Admittedly, it does have some scary parts, but, apart from the scenes with the ghosties (which only accounts for about 15 minutes), it's really quite boring. It's also a lot more slickly-made than everyone would have you believe, with much digital trickery and clever (and, at times, sloppy) editing to give it more of a documentary feel. Call me a hater, but The Blair Witch Project, to which this is frequently compared, was a whole hell of a lot scarier.

House of the Devil (2009)
The crappy Horror Movies of the '80s fostered my subsequent love of all Horror Movies. So, I appreciate that someone actually took the time to try and capture the unique feel of an '80s Horror Film in a modern-day one. And writer/director Ti West has pretty much nailed here. Unfortunately, a nice gimmick is no substitute for a plot, of which this only has about five minutes worth. The rest is just padding out the running time. And that's waaaaaay too much padding.

Orphan (2009)
This movie was just as creepy as advertised, but gets torpedoed by an highly improbable twist at the end. Oh, and if overt sexual behavior by a 12-year old is a little too creepy for you, there's a scene toward the end that will have you hiding under the bed.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
I've discussed this movie in depth before; no need to rehash here.

The best one is the only non-Horror Movie; I sense a correlation here:

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
If I didn't know better, I'd say this was a Coen Brothers movie, as it shares the goofy surreality of movies like Fargo and Burn After Reading. The movie, which is allegedly based on true events, refuses to admit that anyone has any sort of powers. It's happy with the fact that, even if no one actually has any power, if they believe they have powers, then that's the same as them having powers. The ambiguity just adds to the goofiness. Add to that great comedic turns by all the cast, and you have a thoroughly entertaining bit of nonsense.

I'm going to try to run through a wall now. Check it out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finally: A "Best Of" List I Can Get Behind

Me and this blog have had a long-standing hatred of "Best Of" lists. (Click here, here, or here to share the hate.) They are invariably written by entities who have no idea what "best" is. And, therefore, I tend to hate them.

That being said, imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon The A.V. Club's "The Best TV Series of the '00s" and found myself agreeing with almost everything on the list.


Mind you, there's some real no-brainers on the list (Arrested Development, The Wire, Mad Men: no duh). But almost everything else on the list is shows that I have watched and enjoyed and would recommend to others. In fact, the only real false note I can find is the inclusion of How I Met Your Mother (which, admittedly, I have never seen, but it's a laff-track sitcom on CBS, which immediately tells me it's shit).

The thing that impresses me most about this list is that it thinks outside the box a little and includes great shows that a lot of people have not seen, like the hilariously insane Tim and Eric Awesome Show or the nostalgia-filled Venture Brothers. Even the inclusion of Joss Whedon's not-seen-by-anyone-until-after-the-fact space western Firefly is to be lauded.

So, seeing as it is the season for "Best Of" lists, be sure to enjoy this one that actually makes sense before gettting inundated with the the nonsensical ones.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honestly: Who Knew?

Two days ago, the Andre Agassi autobiography Open was published. Before that, details of the book had been slowly leaking out, including some shockers, like his crystal meth use. The one that gets the most play, though, is the fact that his famous '90s hairdo was a wig.


At the time, it was unfathomable that his hair was a wig. The wild hair seemed to go with the rest of his flamboyant, bad-boy persona. The hair seemed almost too complex to be a wig, and, honestly, that was the style at the time. I myself and many others I know had very similar mullets at the time. So, his hair didn't even look out of place or style and so there was no question as to its authenticity. I mean, how hard was it to believe that a 20-year old would have a big, fabulous head of wild hair?

But, 20 years later, after watching the above clip from the 1990 U.S. Open Final, before which Agassi claims his wig fell apart and was being held together with bobby pins, I realize: How could it not be a wig?

The obviousness of wigness is amplified by the fact he's wearing a headband. You can plainly see that he's pulling a Bret Michaels and that everything above the headband is a wig and everything below it is not. It's like there's a line drawn straight across his head separating what's real and what's fake. As you watch the match go on, the headband begins to creep up and he begins to look like a bald guy with a dead bearcat tied to his scalp with a headband.

I guess we should have suspected something when, suddenly, Agassi started wearing a hat and by '95, when he shaved his head, it was pretty apparent that he'd been balding for quite some time. But, the fact that it never looked like a wig, even when it was all sweaty and flying around, made for completely plausible deniability.

I guess no one realized how advanced wig technology was 20 years ago. Now I know.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Maybe Jim Thompson Will Finally Get His Due

Because I pay so little attention to everything, I had no idea that there was a movie adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me coming out. (Actually, it's the second adaptation, as there's a Stacey Keach movie from the '70s that adapted it first.) Based upon the trailer (which I've included at the end of this post), it looks fairly entertaining, especially if you've always fantasized about seeing Jessica Alba getting beaten to death. As someone who's read most of Thompson's books, I'm always happy to see a movie based on Thompson's work.

The real shame is that Thompson, who died in the '70s, isn't around to reap any of the monetary benefits of having his work adapted. Thompson was widely ignored during his lifetime. Mind you, two of his books were adapted into movies in his lifetime (the aforementioned Keach version of The Killer Inside Me and Steve McQueen version of The Getaway). But, by the time he died, Thompson was broke and all of his work was out of print. It wasn't until years later, when people realized that Thompson was a better writer than Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, that his work was unfairly lumped in with all the other pulp fiction dreck of the era and that people might actually be interested in his work.

Now, all of his books are readily available and there's interest in "being in the Jim Thompson business." There have been nine more movie adaptations since his death, one of which (The Grifters) was nominated for four Oscars. And he's pretty much become one of those "Writers Everyone Should Read, But Hasn't." Meanwhile, Thompson spins in his grave, fuming over why it took his death for people to realize his greatness.

I know I'd be pissed. Anyway, enjoy the trailer:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I Was Wondering When They Were Going To Change That Definition

If you missed last night's episode of South Park, you missed a delightfully subversive episode in which the boys get the definition of the word "fag" to refer to Harley riders instead of homosexuals.

As someone whose city is the Home of Harley Davidson and gets flooded with 100,000 annoying Harley riders every five years, I fully concur with Emmanuel Lewis' decision to update the definition.

Just my two cents, much to the chagrin of some of my friends and family.