Monday, August 27, 2007
It's nice to see the master of martial arts movies share the screen with one of the heirs to the action star throne. Jet Li looks like old school Jet Li with nice suits and subdued actions, well subdued until he unleashes his own brand of violence that is. He's still one of the greatest martial arts stars period and can be so violent yet so graceful at the same time, an unusual combination and part of what makes him stand out so much. Jason Statham is a solid actor with a lot of skills as a fighter as he's lightning quick and smooth. He can share the screen with Li and not be ignored somehow.
The movie itself is pretty much exactly what you would expect if you watched the trailer. Lots of fighting shooting, and chasing... and then more fighting. There's a nice twist to the plot towards the end that I really didn't see coming, and it gives it a bit more depth. It's a bit too convuluted for me to enjoy though and overall it's still a pretty one dimensional fight flick.
Unfortunately, despite the build-up, Li and Statham never really duke it out much. I was wishing for a big 10 minute slugfest to end it, but it wasn't to be.
So if you go in looking for a goodtime action/martial arts flick you'll get your money's worth. If you're looking for great cinema you'll want to pass. This is just more cliched mindless fun.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Billed as a romantic comedy... it's not really romantic or much of a comedy. I think Chris Rock is a really funny guy, he just didn't have a lot to work with here. He's instantly unlikeable because right off the bat he starts lying to his wife and sneaking around, and proceeds to make some of the worse possible decisions so it's really hard to root for the guy. I sort of wanted to see him fail and get kicked in the crotch after a bit. Of course, somebody getting kicked in the crotch makes almost any movie better.
As far as the romantic part, except for the end when he and his wife break into song (seriously... it's actually the most original part of the film I thought) there's nothing really romantic about the story. One woman is a lustful, shallow man-eater and the other "option" nags him to death... not a lot of romance from either. In the end, he never tells her the truth about what was going on.
Lastly, both of the actresses are very beautiful ladies... and then there's Chris Rock and his 140 lb crackhead lookin' self. Sure, it's a movie but let's be a little realistic.
With some crude jokes and quite a bit of profanity, I had a few laughs thanks mainly to Rock's nasty goofiness. There just should have been a whole lot more I thought.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
So I guess the year was 1977. I was a mere 11 years old and had been listening to music pretty heavily for a couple of years. Well, "real" music at least. The Chipmunks were pretty much a staple before that turn was made. (Little known fact... I learned a lot of the Beatles songs from the album The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles. Shhh... don't tell anyone.) So here I am in 1977 with a fancy phonograph record player (with 2 speakers!) that my Mom had gotten me from the Ben Franklin 5 & 10 store. I was discovering a lot of cool stuff like Steve Miller, Eagles, Queen, ELO and Peter Frampton. We're in the store in a nearby town we went to a lot for shopping (Newberrys I believe), since we had no shopping in my small town, and that's where I saw it; the album cover for KISS' Rock N Roll Over. Comic book style characters with one guy shooting lasers out of his eyes and another guy with a snake-like tongue looking all devilish... what's not to like? Of course, before my mouth even caught up to my thoughts, my Mom said "NO! I'll not have that devil garbage in my house!" So of course that was the end of it.
Ah, who am I kidding! You know that just made me want it more (ask Adam and Eve). I vowed on the spot to have that KISS album, and many more somehow. Well, the next weekend I went back to the same store with my buddy and his parents, my allowance in hand, and bought it. Before checking out of course I was quizzed by my friend's Mom as to whether or not my Mom would approve of it, which was met with "Of course!" What was she gonna do? Call her on her cell phone? Text her? This is 1977 people. So I sneak the album back home, take it in my room, and begin to digest it all... from liner notes to songs. And I digested it over-and-over until I knew every note, every word and every symbol hit.
This was the coolest band of all-time! They weren't just rockers, they were super heroes come to life who sang of women and rock n rolling all night! At the time of course, I could care less about either of these things but hey Gene breathed fire and puked blood so that was good enough to keep me on the bandwagon. I learned what I could from the magazines like Hit Parader and Circus and started to cover the walls with pin-ups.
Before long I'd picked up their Destroyer album and later that year Love Gun was released so that was added to my budding collection. Each album was memorized by me and my buddy in the same manner... non-stop listening and air guitar in the mirror. By this point Mom was on to my game and had given in to Kissmania.
In 1978 they became the first band to have each member release a solo album, all under the KISS moniker of course. Unfortunately for us, our allowances made us be a bit choosier about which ones to get. Immediately I picked up Ace's solo album, being as the Spaceman was my favorite guy. Over the next 6 months I eventually got the other 3, but to this day that Ace solo album still blows me away. I remember blasting that one in our "clubhouse" we had by that point. Good times.
1978 was also the fateful year they did the dreaded made-for-TV movie KISS Meets The Phantom. It came on TV right before Halloween that year and is still perhaps one of the stupidest most campy movies of all-time, but we loved it. I remember us KISS fans defending it to the non-KISS fans the next day at school, claiming they just didn't get it. It could have guest-starred The Brady Bunch (and maybe should have) and we'd have still defended it.
KISS lunch box? Had it. KISS comic book (made with real blood!)? Had it. KISS poseable action figures? Had 'em. KISS Halloween costume? Did that (I was Ace 2 years in a row). KISS Pez dispenser? Who didn't have that!
I remember one of my cousins had a denim KISS jacket, which he wore to a concert and was close enough that he claims Gene got "blood" on it. He even showed me the stain. I remember thinking at the time if I had something that awesome, I'd feel my life was complete. I'd never want for anything again.
Sadly, when 1979 rolled around, KISS pretty much jumped the shark with the release of the album Dynasty. Disco was hot and they abandoned their rock roots and made a cheesy album to sell more, with hints of disco all over it and especially the hit "I Was Made For Loving You". Total cheese, so much that even we couldn't defend it... but we played it anyway. The big news of 1979 though was that my buddy's folks got us tickets to see them in Memphis and offered to take us.
It was just before my school year in 1979 and it was my first rock concert I'd been to see. The opening band was New England (who?!?) and I remember just wanting those boneheads to get the hell off the stage so KISS could come out. Finally, the lights went down and smoke started rolling off the stage as KISS emerged from underneath the stage with capes on and fists held high in the air and launched into King of the Nighttime World. I remember the hair standing up on the back of my neck and looking at my friends and yelling at the top of my lungs, which of course they all did, yet none of us could hear what the others were yelling but I'm sure it was along the lines of something deep like "KISS rules!" We went nuts and continued going nuts for the next 2 hours or so, in what was probably the coolest 2 hours of my life up to that point. Wearing the concert jersey to school that year ranks pretty high as well, bragging about being an expert concert goer by that point of course. What's that you say? Oh well, whatever dude... I've seen KISS.
The next few years sadly brought about crap releases like Unmasked and Music From the Elder as members started to fall out of the band. I still listened to the old stuff, but was having a harder and harder time being a proud full-time KISS Army member, even when the excellent Creatures of the Night album came out. It was too late by then for a lot of people. The next decade or so were the non make-up years, with the occasional decent song. I saw them a couple of times in Memphis without make-up and with Vinnie, Bruce and Eric, but it wasn't the same. I'd moved on to the much more "chick-friendly" bands with bigger hair and songs that were actually played on the radio.
When they returned with original members in the late 90s for a tour I caught them twice, once in Memphis and once in Little Rock and since then on their various reunion/farewell tours have seen them a few times as well. Now they're obviously much more of a merchandising machine than a rock band. They tried to release an album of new material in 1998, but it sucked like a tarpit. Before that they jumped on the grunge wagon even for 1 CD, Carnival of Souls, which I actually like quite a bit.
But I'll always remember them though for being the first band I completely idolized. Way too many memories from growing up blasting the music of these guys to forget anytime before the retirement home. I hope to put a KISS pin-up on the wall of my room when I do finally check-in.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Ray Keene (John Cusack), a father who wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his son, is trying to bring Frank Cordell (Morgan Freeman), a world-class assassin to justice. All the while, he must protect his son and evade the assassin's team who are methodically hunting them down in the wilderness.
This was a straight-to-video release and when I saw it on the racks, I knew that if it had John Cusack and Morgan Freeman both in it yet didn't get a theatrical release that something must be bad wrong. After viewing it, I'll say there was really nothing that awful about it, it's just very mediocre.
Not really a lot of tension for a supposed thriler and not really a lot of action for a supposed action flick. It's mildly intriguing but all the characters are just so one dimensional and cliche. You've got the local hillbilly officials... the goverment crew of meanies coming in to stomp on their authority... the criminal hitman with the heart of gold... his cronies who are formerly military trained killers with weapons (and even a helicopter at one point) yet they can't track down and kill a kid and his dad, who just has a pistol. It all builds to a predictable ending and I was just left feeling sort of "eh".
Again, it's intriguing and watchable, but nothing you're going call all your friends on speed dial and demand they rent immediately.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
We hung around for the awards because it was a really neat thing they were doing, letting a lot of the kids talk, and it was an emotional experience watching some of these groups of people supporting and running or walking for certain children. Very cool.
But anyway, I was a bit shocked when they were going through the awards and called my name for 2nd place in the Men's 40-44 division! My first "trophy". Ok, it was actually just a piece of paper that said 2nd Place, but what the heck. It might as well be a trophy. I got my picture made with the chairman and his wife, which is funny because it's Bill Valentine from the Travelers... but that's a whole other blog.
So, a new high mark of 24:20 and I've tasted the silver. I'll see what I can do next month in another 5K I guess.
Starting out in the pack
A few feet from the finish
Post race chillin'
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Man it's great to see a Razorback football player garner all the recognition that Darren McFadden is getting this pre-season. For the second time in less than a week, he's featured on the cover of a national publication. After appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this week, our tailback is featured on the current edition of ESPN The Magazine.
It's is one of three regional covers for the publication’s college football preview. Louisville’s Brian Brohm, Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia are one of the other regional covers while California’s DeShaun Jackson is featured on the third cover. The jerk-asses at their subscription department actually sent me the Louisville cover. Hello? I LIVE in Arkansas?!!? Needless to say a call was made and a new issue is on the way.
I haven't read the ESPN article yet, but the SI article is great and shows McFadden in a very good light. He's a very funny and entertaining kid. I hope he's as entertaining on the field in a couple of weeks... but I have complete faith he will be. It is tough though to be such a target all year. After finishing 2nd in Heisman voting last year, he'll be a marked man for sure.
Why him? Well, in the mold of football great Eric Dickerson, he's quick as a hiccup yet still strong as a bull. He lined up at wide-out, quarterback and tailback last season in addition to kickoff returns. He had 1,113 rushing yards with 11 TDs his freshman year and followed that up last year with 1,647 rushing yards with 14 TDs. Oh yeah, he also passed for 3 touchdowns, caught 1 touchdown and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He was rewarded by becoming the first sophomore ever to win the Doak Walker Award for being the nation's best running back.
In short, he's a stud.
Pre-Season Magazine Covers
ESPN The Magazine
Blue Ribbon College Football
Phil Steele College Football
The Sporting News
Arkansas Business 360
Hawgs Illustrated (with Felix Jones, Michael Smith)
Hooten’s Arkansas Football
Street and Smith’s
USA Today Sports Weekly
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A Viking boy is left behind after his clan battles a Native American tribe. Raised within the tribe, he ultimately becomes their savior in a fight against the Norsemen.
I thought this movie had a cool premise, I mean who wouldn't like a big battle between the Vikings and Indians, but it gets a bit murky as it chugs along. If you like battles, beheadings and blood (who doesn't?) then you'll be pleased with that aspect. If you enjoy good storylines and strong characters you'll be disappointed.
The cinematography wasn't as good as I'd hoped for knowing the subject matter and time period. They could have done some great stuff with locations but failed to. It instead tends to be too loud and busy, causing it to just be ugly at times. It reminded me a bit of 300, but with all the style sucked out of it.
But all in all, it's got a lot of action and fights and such and personally I found it quite entertaining. I love this type of movie and this is a better film that Nomad, but nowhere near the level of 300.
How can you not like this video though? See who all you can pick out. Lots of stars like Kid Rock, Billy Gibbons (from ZZ Top), Chuck Liddell, Dale Jr., Grant Hill, Ted Nugent, John Rich (from Big and Rich)... and many more. Playmates? You got 'em. Orange County Choppers? You got 'em.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) dodges new, superior assassins as he searches for his unknown past while a government agency tries to track him down.
Wow! Supposedly the final installment of this franchise and personally I think it's easily the best. The script is great, the acting is fantastic as Damon is the best I've seen him yet and there is action galore. If I have to complain about anything, it's that it's shot so close that I almost got motion sickness. Sure, I want to be right in the action, but this was so shakey at times I couldn't tell what was going on during fight scenes.
But that's about all to find wrong with this. It's not just an action film, it's also a smart movie with some great conclusions for this series. It's got enough of a popcorn movie feel to keep action fans happy, but it's still got enough brains to keep the thinking man happy. That's a rare combination anymore.
What I think I like most about it is the pace. It hits the ground running and just never lets up. You better take a leak before you go in this one, cause you're gonna miss either a butt-whippin' or a car chase if you have to leave for even a few minutes. It's sort of like a roller coaster, except you never have to climb up the hills.
Matt Damon is perfect for this role. He doesn't overact the character.
This might be my favorite movie of the year so far.
Monday, August 13, 2007
While in Paris, the action/comedy duo of Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) battle a wing of Chinese organized crime.
If you want to have a chance at all of enjoying this film, you must first just forget how stupid it is. Chris Tucker's character is so over-the-top in situations that it's not remotely believable and lots of the fight/action sequences cause eye-rolls instantly. But you can still enjoy it.
Sure it's just a rehash of the first 2 films really. The plot is very minimal. If you've seen the first 2 movies, just put the same scenes in Paris and have them battle at the Eiffel Tower at the end and presto... Rush Hour 3.
But it's still sort of fun at times. I like Chan and Tucker together, even though Tucker starts to get on my nerves pretty quickly. They play off each other nicely with Chan being so dry and Tucker being so loud. Jackie whips all the butt while Tucker stands there and runs his mouth (although, he does do a bit of butt kicking in this one). There are some neat stunts and fun action too.
You could do worse than to see this, but it's not that memorable. This series really has no water left in the well after this. They definitel need to stop it at 3.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
A bit different than many of these types of films of late, as there is no CGI to generate massive armys or to beef up the fights. With the budget they had, they used only live action. Still, the film owes a lot to battle driven films like Braveheart with the typical "chosen one" trying to lead his people to freedom. They also throw in the ole trusty love story, with both of the warriors in love with the same women. Nothing really original with the storyline at all. It's almost cliche' how many epic movie cliche's they use. Is that even possible?
The fight scenes are pretty good, but not great. The action seems a bit too fake at times and the blood looked a bit funny I thought for some reason. Some of the battle scenes were pretty intense though. Probably the worst thing though was Jay Hernandez's (who plays Erali) porn star looking mustache. Jay's been in a couple of my favorite movies lately, namely Hostel and Hostel Part 2, but that 'stache has gotta go.
Another negative was it's subtitled in English, yet spoken in Kazakhstani or whatever the hell they call their language. But get this... it's filmed with them speaking English. So yeah, follow along here... filmed in English, dubbed in whatever, sub-titled in English. Add it up and it spells a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g and subtracts from any decent acting performances. The good news is there really weren't any decent acting performances to subtract from. The horses were pretty good though I guess.
OK, lots of negative there... but if you like action/battle films you'll still like it. The landscapes are gorgeous at least and the battle scenes sort of fun. At least there is violence! In addition to Braveheart, it owes a bit to Gladiator with some UFC style pit fights.
I must say, it's also the best film about Kazakhstan I've ever seen.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
We started the night in the a/c at Cornerstone Pub before sitting out in the 90+ degree heat, then closed it out at a pool/dart hall called Mac Daddys, which is also walking distance from the park. It ended up being one of those "close down the pub" nights and was a whole lot of fun... despite neither of us winning one of the pieces of crap cars they were giving away (nor playing darts worth a flip). Eh, maybe next year.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Take the classic movie Rear Window and replace James Stewart with a kid from the cover of Tiger Beat magazine, throw in some modern gadgets and you have Disturbia. It was aimed at teen audiences so the suspense is pulled back every time it gets too dark, yet it still has quite a bit of good fun in it. The lead charater is very likeable as are his 2 friends and David Morse is great as the creepy neighbor. I hope Shia LeBouf is a big star, if he's not already really, as he's not a bad young actor at all. I've enjoyed his roles in this and Transformers both this Summer.
My biggest problem with the film was that is was just so dumb. The serial killer, from what we can determine, is the smartest serial killer in the history of the earth with all the smooth stuff he pulls off, yet somehow doesn't close his blinds when he's laying the smack down. The cops are even dumber. The only smart people in the movie are supposed to be the kids I guess, but they put themselves in danger multiple times and despite all sorts of proof on video they never confide in the police. Instead they break the law themselves.
But enough picking apart, this movie is still fun and a decent thriller. It's not too violent, although there is some, and it moves along at a nice pace. The resolution is a bit cliche' and several things made me scratch my head, but don't think too hard and it's fine.
Overall this film has a 7.3 rating at IMDB, which I was a bit shocked to see after viewing the movie. It's got it's fun but I just didn't think it was that good really. So I checked into the numbers a bit and found that people aged 30+ gave this film an average of 6.7. People under 18 gave it an average of 8.3. Females under 18 actually gave it an average of 9.0. So their target market, which was obviously teens, ate it up. That's good marketing for a film for sure and explains a lot of the $80 million haul this thing had at the theaters despite it's flaws.
Fun little flim, but go rent Hitchcock's Rear Window to see how this is really supposed to be done (or borrow my DVD).
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
A housewife (Sandra Bullock) learns her husband was killed in a car accident the day previously, then awakens the next morning to find him alive and well at home, and then awakens the next day after to a world in which he is still dead. She begins to try to unravel exactly what is going on and how she can change the future.
First off, let me say I like Sandra Bullock and always have. I think she's a great actress, and she proves it again in several scenes in this movie. Too bad she's working with such confusing material here though.
And that is the best way to describe this film I think... confusing. I never really knew why she was having these premonitions and by the end I really didn't care. Telling a story in reverse is sort of cool, like Memento for example. Re-living a day over and over like say Groundhog's Day is sort of fun too. But jumping forward a day and backwards a day and all around a week is just annoying.
I won't give away the end, but I thought the movie just tried to be some sort of spiritual message by that point instead of explaining what the hell was going on. I felt like as I was watching this that the whole illogical path we were going down was going to lead to some big twist and resolution, but it didn't. It was enjoyable for a bit to try to follow along and I think it could have been a pretty smartly made thriller with quite a bit of tweaking of the last 30 minutes, but sadly it's not.
Cool idea maybe if done right.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Blaze is the story of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. -- of the crimes committed against him and the crimes he commits, including his last, the kidnapping of a baby heir worth millions. Blaze has been a slow thinker since childhood, when his father threw him down the stairs -- and then threw him down again. After escaping an abusive institution for boys when he was a teenager, Blaze hooks up with George, a seasoned criminal who thinks he has all the answers. But then George is killed, and Blaze, though haunted by his partner, is on his own.
This is a book Stephen King (aka Richard Bachman) wrote in the early 70s and recently dusted off and touched up. It's a decent enough story with a big dumb sympathetic lead character, ala John Steinbeck, and a bit of suspense. It's not really horror by any means, but just a crime story that's sort of sad and a bit predictable really.
This book sits well enough beside some of King's early works like The Body, Stand By Me or Shawshank. It's just a good narrative tale that you watch unfold from a master storyteller in his early years. Not particularly spine-tingling, but a story of a character you can empathize with enough to enjoy the book. Not too memorable, but not instantly forgettable either.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Trapt - Stay Alive
That got me to looking around for some other cool stuff and I found these "Purple and Brown" shorts from Nickelodeon. Some of them are pretty cool too. It's really amazing to see features on how these things are made and how much work goes into them. They're extremely laborious to make.
Purple and Brown - Bubble Gum
Purple and Brown - From Above
Purple and Brown - Playing Tag
Purple and Brown - Howl
Purple and Brown - Hiccup
Friday, August 3, 2007
This film of course is pretty much a 90 minute version of a Simpsons episode with a few exceptions... mainly that it's a bit more raunchy and the animation is better. It's got a lot of funny moments that will appeal to people who aren't even fans of the show and many moments that only die-hard fans (moi!) will catch. A lot of the humor is slapstick but there's still a whole lot of pop culture satire worked in, as fans of the series would expect. Lots of one liners... some hit, some miss... but they keep on coming. Repeated viewings are probably necessary to catch everything.
How is it "raunchier" exactly? Well, more crotch shots than normal for one. We also see Bart's wang and hear Marge say GD amoung other things. The PG-13 rating is earned.
But the animation is one good reason to not miss this on the big screen. It's much more expansive and dimensional than the TV show.
All-in-all... I think it fully lived up to my expectations. Not just a Simpsons movie finally, but a really good Simpsons movie.
1. What are you thinking about?
2. Do you love me?
3. Do I look fat in this?
4. Do you think she is prettier than me?
5. What would you do if I died?
5 Words That Make Me Laugh When I Hear Them:
5 New Movies Opening In Theaters Today:
5. Underdog - Take the kids to this live action version of the cartoon classic.
4. Bratz: The Movie - Oh God no.
3. El Cantante - J-Lo and Marc Anthony star... enough said.
2. Hot Rod - Andy Samberg's dumbed down looking comedy vehicle.
1. The Bourne Ultimatum - Matt Damon returns as America's James Bond.
5 Things I Plan on Doing This Weekend:
5. Long bike ride on the river.
4. Finishing my current book.
3. Watching the first 2 Jason Bourne movies... then Bourne Ultimatum.
2. Happy hour... dinner... pool on Friday night.
1. Going to the lake on Sunday.
5 People I'd Like To See Get Slapped In The Mug With a Dead Fish:
5. Nicole Richie
4. Britny Spears
3. Barry Bonds
2. Andy Dick
1. Michael Vick
Thursday, August 2, 2007
In the tradition of Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees... the next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo, all the while deconstructing the conventions and archetypes of the horror genre for them.
An extremely clever film that's part comedy/part horror. It switches back-and-forth between "documentary" (complete with shaky handheld cameras) and "regular cinema". It stars with Leslie leading a documentary film crew around, showing them his secrets as a slasher while exposing all sorts of slasher film cliches, then switches to more of a cinema-style as the plan unfolds.
Yeah, it's been done before with the Scream films and even Man Bites Dog (for you fellow horror fans), but there's a lot to like here. Never really laugh out loud funny, but very dry humor ala maybe Spinal Tap. Nathan Baesel is fantastic as Vernon, the only character that really stands out in the cast of relatively unknowns.
For an indie film, this movie blows away most of the big screen releases nowadays. If you enjoy clever horror movies laced with humor, you're gonna love this. I did.