The Trip / Steve Coogan: She Was Only Sixteen

Loved this. I never imagined they’d try to make make a sequel to Tristram Shandy – or rather Coogan/Winterbottom’s film version of it – yet here it is, much more casual, charming and enjoyable.

Rob Brydon – a guy I had completely forgotten about – reprises his role as himself as well, accompanying Coogan on an Observer (newspaper) sponsored trip of fine restaurants around the north of England. Coogan had originally intended to take his American girlfriend on the trip, but they’ve semi split-up, so he asks Brydon, who, while seemingly much less of a louse than Coogan, is incredibly annoying, never more than 2 seconds away from an impersonation of Al Pacino or Anthony Hopkins.

Michael Caine also plays an important part, as anyone who has seen the preview knows.

Continue reading The Trip / Steve Coogan: She Was Only Sixteen

Game of Thrones / Dinklage

All right – this has hooked me big time. Two episodes in and I can barely wait for the next one.
Well directed, scripted, acted. Great action, suspenseful… Geez, all this and Peter Dinklage too. And, so far at least, he is far and away the best thing in a show that’s full of great stuff.

Apparently he’s been a much busier actor than I have been a watcher of his work, because his CV is a mile long. But from those early Alexandre Rockwell films In the Soup and 13 Moons to The Station Agent, I’ve always dug his style. He’s excellent here. The scene in the second episode where – despite having slept in a stable, or passed out there drunk – he slowly tips his hand just enough to show he knows much more than anyone around him – I watched it twice. And well, he’s just a blast in every scene he’s in.

I’m going out on a limb to say that this won’t disappoint me as it goes along. Sean Bean dressed in pelts = always a good bloody time. My only small upset comes from the fact that Roger Allam is not being listed as a regular cast member after having a nice role drawn for him in the first episode. A whole show that consistently features Bean, Dinkalge and Allam would just be too much fun to take.

Music 2010

Here’s what I really liked this year:
#1. Salem – King Night (Dark, insane, bedroom witch house, a soundtrack for Earth in 2010 where somehow Dario Argento is responsible for never-ending wars, religious nutbaggery and the socio-economic annihilation of the greater midwestern United States. )

Pop albums:
Best Coast – Crazy For You
The Drums – The Drums
Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
Wavves – King Of The Beach

Cee-Lo – “Fuck You” Song of the year by a mile.
Daft Punk – “Game Has Changed” Overall, I’m a little disappointed with the new Tron soundtrack. I wish it was all as good as this. (I will wish the movie was as good as the second trailer as well) Continue reading Music 2010


I considered just posting a quickie in the Expendables thread, since this movie is in a similar vein, but really, Machete deserves better than that. I didn’t see the Expendables – I had less than zero interest in it – but I’m sure I would have hated it. I’ve never really liked any movie those overpaid jocko-homo jerkwads made in the 80s (maybe a Bruce Willis flick here or there), and the addition of the always-annoying Jet Li and some former pro wrestlers didn’t make it any more appealing. Now if they had cast Rowdy Roddy Piper in it, and brought in John Carpenter to direct, we’d be talking.

And that’s the big difference. John Carpenter, bless his soul. Like him, Robert Rodriguez writes em, as well as directs em, and why pay someone else to do the music for your own movies when you can just knock it out yourself with your band on a weekend? Continue reading Machete

Halloween: From Beyond (1986)

I’m tired of your arty Norwegian vampire kiddies and your CGI-Guillermo del Toro bullshit. Gimme some oozing latex, an unrecognizable namecheck of HP Lovecraft, and a gratuitous sex scene. That’s right, give me a Stuart Gordon 80s movie!


Well, I’ve seen Re-Animator enough times, though many of those times I was 17 and stoned, but I feel I’ve seen it enough. So I took up Netflix’s offer to watch From Beyond, Re-Animator’s follow-up with much of the same cast and crew.

A mad scientist invents a machine that opens a doorway to another dimension, letting those creatures (mostly eels and jellyfish) interact with our own realm. And by interact, I mean bite the head of said scientist. Continue reading Halloween: From Beyond (1986)

The Social Network

Hype be damned, this is about as great an American mainstream movie that I can remember seeing for a few years. That it chronicles a guy and his creation which is so pervasive that it would have been on the cover of every third magazine without the movie is that much more impressive. It could so easily have become a relic, b/c when we all do jump ship from Facebook, there’d still be this entertaining movie. It could have come out when we’re on the next thing. It wouldn’t matter how good a movie about Napster is, if it was released in 2010. Or even in 2003. Fossil. Instead, we have a movie set in 2003 that might feels like it’s set right this very second.

I’m failing to come up with proper analogies. All the President’s Men perhaps? That was a four year gap between events and the movie. Social Network has a longer gap between the depicted events and today than President’s Men, but the important difference is this time the movie is out, and Nixon is still in the White House. Continue reading The Social Network

Terence Stamp / Stephen Frears’ The Hit (1984)

I love this movie. I came across the Criterion DVD at Video Journeys last year along with The Friends of Eddie Coyle and had my mind wiped clean by how non-Scorsese and non-cliche a gangster movie can be. Is there anther Terrence Stamp performance that is as perfect as this? (until The Limey, which is so in debt to this…)


As if he’s not enough (and he would be), there is a barely out of his teens Tim Roth and an excellent John Hurt performance as well. This movie sent me back to find as many of Stamp’s older movies as I could find, but it seems like some are – unbelievably – lost. Ken Loach’s Poor Cow is not on DVD and I have not seen it anywhere.

Scott Pilgrim

This was a blast. I was sucked in from the opening of the Universal logo done in old NES-style graphics with an 8-bit version of the studio melody. And if that last sentence confuses you a couple of different ways, then this probably isn’t the right movie for you.

In the same way that zombie movie lovers got many more of the jokes in Shaun of the Dead, same goes here. You’ll get this movie more if you play video games and are one of the 20-something man-children that the NYTimes and Time Magazine are so upset about. But what’s also bugging those guys probably has a bit to do with the fact that who the hell still buys Time Magazine or the New York Times? Definitely not the N. American Man-Child. Thing is, that sub-species also doesn’t pay $12 to go sit in a movie theater. The movie kind of flopped this weekend. But as of right now on Piratebay, 1100+ people are seeding the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack and 1200+ are seeding the comic book series the movie was based on. That means with a decent connection you could download both for free in about 4.5 minutes. And in a couple of days a crappy version of the movie will be uploaded and spreading everywhere to be watched on iphones and 13″ computer monitors, possibly with Russian subtitles.

And that’s too bad because this movie really looks good on a nice big movie screen, preferably at a single screen theater, like the Vista. Continue reading Scott Pilgrim

Gilliam’s Parnasus / Burton’s Alice

Well, here are a couple of disappointments. I don’t suppose I had very high hopes for Alice, but I didn’t think it would be quite as boring as this. In a movie that is about little more than spectacle, Burton managed to show us nothing we haven’t seen millions of times before, in his movies and every other adaptation of Alice.

The highlights were Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, and to a lesser extent Crispin Glover as the Jack of Hearts or Knaves or something. This was every bit as tedious as Burton’s Planet of the Apes and I wonder why he keeps going for these seemingly pointless remakes. Is there really such a lack of original scripts out there? I mean, there’s a good 20+ years worth of kids who grew up immersed in Burton’s non-threatening dreams. Some of them must have becomes scriptwriters who have risen to the point where they can pitch something his way?
I miss the warmth of Ed Wood or the insanity of Mars Attacks.

Terry Gilliam’s Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus had some measure of originality to it, but was an unfocused, poorly acted, confusing mess. Heath Ledger has yet to impress me with his acting. Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell at least seemed to be awake. I’m not entirely sure that Christopher Plummer didn’t die in pre-production and that Gilliam just made a marionette out of his corpse, waving his hand here and there and mumbling some gibberish.

Like Alice there were two performances here that are worth watching. One is Lily Cole’s. I remember being amazed at how Gilliam took the beauty of Uma Thurman in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and just cranked it up to a ridiculous degree, so that she seemed almost post-human, evolved into another species. He does the same here. Lily Cole is gorgeous, and alive and acts, and reacts, and does all the things that someone acting in a movie is supposed to do. And Tom Waits as the devil seems like a no-brainer. He’s great.

But I cared nothing about any of these characters in either movie. I watched them months ago, and tried to write something then, but they are difficult to get excited enough to actually think very much about them.

I’ll at least use the opportunity to suggest going back to watch Tideland, Gilliam’s terribly reviewed previous movie, which was easily one of my favorites of the year. Jeff Bridges delivers a better performance as a corpse in Tideland than Ledger did as a quasi-live person in Parnasus.