There Will Be Blood – Feb 29

This is the third entry in my 2008 movie reviews, as always, there will probably be spoilers contained herein.

I knew we were in trouble when the first line of dialog did not occur until 15 minutes into the movie.

The much lauded There Will Be Blood by P. T. Anderson was by my account wholly disappointing. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First a little synopsis. The movie centers on a driven oil prospector and driller Daniel Plainview in the early 20th century. He is approached by a fresh faced kid who says his family ranch has oil, and for a price he’d tell him where it was. Long story short, Daniel and his son (and partner, H.W.) arrive at the ranch in California, convince the local yokels to all agree to let him drill by promising them prosperity, and bread. Obviously, you would have to imagine not all goes smoothly, and hurdles are presented by a local preacher and twin brother of the kid who put this all in motion.

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U2 3D – Feb 22

Jess is a massive U2 fan.  She owns every piece of music ever produced by them.  She was so excited for this movie to open that she actually, only half jokingly asked if we could fly down to Salt Lake City last weekend where the movie was already open.  Needless to say, I put a heavy kibosh on that one.  Instead, we waiting until this past Friday when the movie opened here.

The movie itself is quite a piece of work.  This is the first 3d movie I’ve seen in many many years.  I can tell you one thing; 3d has come a LONG way since the old days of the paper framed red and blue glasses you got in your box of Lucky Charms to watch the 3d presentation of The Day After.  They give you a hefty set of alternating polarized glasses that neatly separated the left and right images for each eye.  The shape of the glasses suggests a Elvis Costello type look.  I thought that they really missed a great marketing tie in.  They should have totally made the glasses look like a replica of Bono’s shades.  How great would that have been?

The movie is projected by a digital projector which creates a beautiful crisp image.  I’m a HUGE fan of digital movies.  You don’t realize how bad traditional film movies look with all the scratches and pops and dirt.  It’s like the difference between VHS and DVD.  Or even VHS and HD-DVD… er… I mean BluRay.  Fantastic.

The movie itself is a straight concert movie, shot at their live show in Buenos Aries.  No behind the scenes or anything.  It starts when they come on stage and ends after the encore.  I’m enough of a U2 fan to recognize about 3/4 of the songs they played, including Vertigo, Beautiful Day, and Where the Streets Have No Name.  The director kept the camera moving and really made the most of the 3d thing.  Shots of the drum kit were very cool, as were closeups of the band… But the absolute peak of the technology was when they would shoot across the top of the crowd.  Seeing thousands of waving arms or jumping bodies in 3d was unreal.  Makes your eyes pop out of your head.  Also, at the end, the started flashing text on the screen (the same text used at the concert in the background) but it was laid over the concert in such a way it looked like it was about 30 feet in front of the screen.  Amazing stuff.  The runtime is only 80 minutes so it certainly doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

Even if you are a marginal U2 fan, I would recommend seeing this flick.  The visuals alone are worth the price of admission.  Plus, the music is solid enough to help you get past Bono’s slight megalomania.

I Am Legend – Jan 3rd

My buddy George and I go to a lot of movies. I have been extremely lax about posting movie reviews on this site, and I want to get better about that this year. He had the idea that he is going to keep a “Movie Journal” about what he sees this year (in theaters that is), and I thought that was a great idea. So, I’ma gonna steal it. Thus, my journal will be here. (see, George, if you had a blog, you could have claimed this for your own…) Keep watching this spot for future reviews. Well, technically, these won’t always be strict reviews. They will probably be filled with things that made me crazy, didn’t work, or questions about why characters did what they did. Without further ado…

The first flick (and only flick for that matter) I’ve seen so far is the sci-fi piece I Am Legend starring Will Smith.

Now, this thing will be filled with spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want it ruined, quit reading now.

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Man Crushes

There are guys in the world that I am amazed by. I love their work, their personalities, everything. Jess calls them “Man Crushes” (click for Urban Dictionary definitions). Now, before you go getting the wrong ideas, let me make one thing perfectly clear… this does NOT mean I love these men in a unnatural sense. Absolutely not. By definition, “Man Crush” means if you could sit in a bar and have beers with a guy and shoot the shit for 4 hours, that would be a great time. All of these guys have personalties such that if they were normal guys who lived around me, I would think that I would definitely be their friends.

Without further ado, here are my man crushes.

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Out of the Blue

Out of the BlueSunday night Jess and I attended the World Premier of Michael Hoffman’s new documentary about Boise State football and their magical season last year. I only have one major critique.

It wasn’t long enough.

The movie had a run time of almost 90 minutes, but frankly, to get everything I wanted to see in there, that thing would have had to have been a 4 week mini-series. (How cool would that be!?)

Actually, this was really well done. If I had one more critique, it would be the fact that a lot of the footage I had already seen before in other outlets (local news, national ESPN pieces, the Perfection season DVD, Fiesta Bowl, etc. I guess that is the problem with doing a documentary after the fact, is that you can’t shoot your own footage at the events as they happen. The stuff they did shoot new for this film was terrific. Lots of interviews with players past and present. Some very very funny lines and moments, especially from last year’s starting center Jadon Dailey. He is awesome. I would say to watch the movie if only to see him.

But like I said, some of the things were just a little too short. I would have loved to have had a few more season moments set to a swelling musical score to really drive things home. Specifically, I’m thinking about the orange and blue rushing of the field in Nevada after the game was over and we had sealed the perfect season and BCS trip. That is a mental image I have that sort of gets drowned out by the enormity that was the Fiesta Bowl. Next to the bowl game, that is by FAR my favorite moment of the season. I stood there, in the upper deck, grinning to myself as 8,000 Bronco fans stormed the field. Outstanding.

I do understand the limitations of a movie, though. I mean, they can’t get everything in there. Plus, the Fiesta Bowl itself was so dramatic and the climax of the movie, they had to devote enough time to that. I guess it just boils down to the fact that I am a fan. And as a fan, I want as much content about my team as is humanly possible.

I will absolutely own this on DVD. There is no question. It will go into my rotation of DVD’s I have to watch when I need a Bronco fix. I have to be one of the few people who still semi-regularly watches the season review DVDs from 3 or 4 or 5 years ago.

Apparently, there is a version cut down to an hour that ESPN will be showing on September 3rd. It cuts out all of the player’s lives stuff and just focuses on the football. Yes, I will watch that too, but I highly recommend getting your hands on this full film and enjoying it.

Refreshing Movie Experience

Jess and I caught the latest Bourne flick (Ultimatum) on Monday for my single day off between jobs.  I met her downtown and we caught the flick then got a little dinner after.

The movie was pretty good, but that is not what I want to talk about.

Instead, I want to talk about the theater itself.  See, we went to catch the matinée at Boise’s legendary Egyptian Theatre.  It has been in business since 1927 here, and despite some lean years in the 80’s, it is back and is the destination for premiers and events.  Right downtown with plenty of parking nearby and lots of post event entertainment (restaurants and bars).

This is the type of place that is just so refreshing I had to write about it.

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Grindhouse: Magnificently Horrible

GrindhouseGeorge and I went to see Grindhouse last night, and I gotta tell you… It is not just a movie. It’s an event. Basically, this movie is made up of 2 feature length movies melded into one sitting. More bang for your buck, for sure.

Now, I’m a little young to remember seeing grindhouse pictures since I was born in the 70’s when they were in their heyday. But, John and I use to spend many nights in the 80’s watching the next best thing to grindhouse movies… the horrible schlock served up on late night HBO. We watched so many bad movies back then, I do have an affinity for them. Back then HBO only had so many first run type movies, so to fill the late night slots when John and I were still up watching, they had some of the worst movies ever. (John, does “Ninja 3: Domination” ring any bells?)

I knew going in to this that these would be so over the top that I had very low expectations. Which was a good thing, since I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. These movies were so outrageous in every single aspect, that they really came across as something that you and your buddies might think up just sitting around and trying to ‘out gross’ the next guy. For example, the zombie who pops a gigantic red boil on his neck and wipes the resulting slime on the doctor to infect him. Of course, in text that sounds absolutely horrible… and it is… but when you see it, you just laugh out loud.

There were a ton of laughs in these movies, but you were not laughing at comedic bits. You are laughing at things that are so crazy and so bizarre you can’t help but laugh. In fact, I was chuckling pretty much during the whole show.

So, the first movie was directed by Robert Rodriquez and was called Planet Terror. Basically a “zombies invade a small Texas town” flick. This was the one that was delightfully insane. Absolutely unlike any “studio” movie you have seen. It is really not that scary in a traditional horror sense. There are a few ‘jump’ scenes, but mainly it is so unreal you just can’t take it seriously. And that is the fun. There was just non-stop shooting of zombies with GALLONS of fountainous watery blood.  Tremendous!

The other movie was Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” which is a slasher meets muscle cars movie. Kurt Russell plays Stuntman Mike who is a deranged stalker of young girls (of course) but instead of using a knife, he uses his car to kill them. I enjoyed this movie better… it was a bit more reserved and realistic. Plus, Kurt Russell is awesome. The scene in the bar when he is watching the girls and using charm to chat them up is great. He has that charisma that you’ve seen so many times before, but you know that there is a creepiness to it behind the scenes. You want him to be a good guy, but you know he’s not. This film is also packed with some serious stunt work that was quite impressive to watch.

I also love how the directors deliberately “damaged” the film itself to look and sound authentic. There were skips and pops and burns and scratches and dirt and dust. It really lent an air of authenticity to the whole production. Almost takes you back in time from the pristine digital images we’re now seeing in theaters.

Perhaps the best part of this whole double-feature was the previews before and in between. Movies called “Machete” which is a 70’s style assassination flick, to “Werewolf Women of the SS” to a holiday slasher called “Thanksgiving”. These things were right in line with the theme of the night and really a lot of fun. Not to mention, that the use of 70’s style movie ‘feature presentation’ stock was just icing on the cake.

When you combine everything, you get a total movie going experience unlike anything you’ve had for a long time. It absolutely is an event. I can’t adequately describe it in words. The end product is far more than the sum of it’s parts and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Set aside 3 hours, go to the theater and turn your brain off and enjoy the ride. You won’t regret it.

Random Thoughts

New Daylight Savings Time rules. Everyone who has been around me for the past 4 days has heard me bitching and moaning about congress and their infinite wisdom to extend the daylight savings time a month (3 weeks now, 1 in the fall). Well it pisses me off.

It has nothing to do with the usual reasons people give for disliking it. It doesn’t affect me physically in the least. For me, being a technical guy and a web programmer at work however, I’m forced to deal with dozens of applications I have written that are time based. Well, the new rules means that everything is now broken. Not irrevocably or anything, but just enough to make me crazy for the next 3 weeks. The amount of time it would take to go back and make sure everything is a-ok is far more than 3 weeks, so what’s the point? Everything will be back to normal working order by then anyway. Talk about frustrating.

Besides, how much energy are we really saving anyway? My guess is NOT MUCH. So, instead of having the lights on at home in the evening for that hour, we’ll have them on in the morning for an hour. Plus, is an hour a day for three lousy weeks really going to reverse global warming? Of course not. But it’s easy, and congress can say they are doing something. Whether that something is effective or not is certainly not their concern. Changing the time is far easier than actually solving any problems.

March Madness. Its that time of year where everyone in the country becomes a college basketball fan. I don’t follow much of it during the year, other than Boise State, so I’m always scrambling this week reading everything I can to fill out my brackets. I always look at my brackets kind of like I do when I’m on the tee of a par 3. “There is that possibility, however incredibly remote, that I might luck into perfection here.” Maybe I hit that miraculous shot for my first hole in one. Maybe I somehow pick every single one of the 65 games correctly. Both are so unlikely that it boggles the mind, yet I always think that. Maybe its the eternal optimist in me.  If either were to happen, I would die a happy man!

However, it is much more likely for me to shank one into the lake.  And just as likely for 3 of my final four teams to be long gone before they get there.  So, watch this space, as I’m sure I’ll be back to bitch about somehow getting screwed in the brackets again.

The 300. George and I saw the movie last night. George, being a bit of a comic book nerd, was looking forward to this movie in the worst kinda way. Due to the arrival of Jack, we were forced to postpone the original plan of opening night.

I will say, the movie was visually stunning. The story was ok. It was most assuredly NOT historically accurate in any way, shape or form. But no matter. It was a fun ride. Perhaps a touch homo erotic with the “uniforms” those Spartans were wearing, but maybe they were going for the women audience with that.

Lots of good violence. Always fun.

St. Patrick’s Day. Coming up this Saturday. One of the great holidays of the year, in that everyone gets to celebrate Irish culture by mainly getting absolutely blotto. It’s great because there are no gifts to buy. No family events to attend to. No rigmarole to go through. You basically find a place to park your ass (and this year watch basketball) and drink Guinness until it comes out of your ears. Sounds like a quality day to me!

Maybe queue up The Quiet Man, pour yourself 2 fingers of Jameson and shout a hearty Slainte to the holiday.

That’s all for today folks. So, top o’ th’ mornin’ to ya!

You’ll shoot your eye out

Arguably the most famous line from any Christmas movie and bane of bb gun desirers (is that a word?) everywhere.

Since I already did my Christmas music list, I figured I might as well let you all in on my favorite Christmas movies as well. You’ll notice a certain lack of true holiday ‘classics’… because frankly, I don’t enjoy a lot of those movies. Well, that might be a little strong… they’re ok, but they simply don’t break into the top 10 in my list.

Again, as with the songs, these are in no particular order.

acs.jpg A Christmas Story – 1983

Except for this one. This one is first for a reason… it is by far and away my all time favorite Christmas movie. Actually, this one probably falls into my pure ‘favorite movies’ list as well. Nothing I have ever seen so perfectly captures what it is like to be a kid at Christmas. There is a reason that TNT does its “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” every year. I have been known to watch more than one of those showings consecutively. I’m sure I need not describe the movie. You have all seen it by now. And if you haven’t, or even worse, you didn’t like it, I’m sorry. Just leave now and never talk to me again.

There is one interesting aspect to this movie that I have noticed. Obviously, I have been watching this movie since I was 10 years old. Every year. I remember identifying so strongly with Ralphie as a kid. Knowing what you want and trying to figure out ways to make that happen… then the unbridled joy when it does. But, over the past few years, I now identify more and more with the Old Man. Throughout the whole movie, Darren McGavin is so perfect. The scene when he gives Ralphie the bb gun I now view through different eyes. I love to see the dad’s face when he gives that gift. I get excited for the dad, not the son now! Damn, I’m getting old…

dh.jpg Die Hard – 1988

Yes, this is my kind of Christmas movie. John McClane vs. the terrorists on Christmas eve. I don’t know if I’ve seen a movie with better, more quotable lines in it.

I do know this movie line for line and am probably not very fun to watch it with. (Am I, Jess?) I’ll just point you to all of the quotes… if I tried to list them we’d be here all day.

This movie did set the tone for action movies for years to come… everything was “Die Hard on an airplane” or “Die Hard on a ship” etc. Another one in my all time top 10 favorite movies.

scrooged.jpg Scrooged – 1988

’88 was a good year for Christmas movies. “Scrooged” is a modern retelling of the classic Dickens tale A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray plays an evil television exec, Frank Cross, who is in the Ebenezer role. Captain of industry, but a complete bastard.

We’ve got wise cracks from Murray. We’ve got time travel with the ghosts, who are all very funny, especially Carol Kane as the corporal-punishing Ghost of Christmas Present. And we still get the feel good story woven in there too.

That final scene when Frank Cross interrupts the live broadcast on Christmas eve with his “I get it” speech is awesome. For a movie that is a pure comedy, it still manages to deliver on the ‘Christmas Spirit’ angle as well. I love this movie.

tp.jpg Trading Places – 1983

Apparently, ’83 was a good year too. This movie is from those years when Eddie Murphy really had his fastball. He was officially the funniest guy in America. This rags to riches and riches to rags story is also chocked full of very quotable lines (isn’t that right, Jason?) for years I have spent an inordinate amount of time quoting this movie. As it stands, this movie’s lines still make it into my everyday speech even without my recognizing that this is where they came from. John, I know you’re with me on this one. “It ain’t cool bein no jive-turkey so close to Thanksgivin… Yeah!”

But its not just the quotes that are so good. The whole movie is terrific. Not to mention, you get a couple bare boob shots including those of Jamie Lee Curtis. I think comedies in the 80’s were required to show breasts. It was a golden age in movie making…

lw.jpg Lethal Weapon – 1987

This movie turned Mel Gibson into a superstar and defined action-comdey buddy flicks for the next 15 years. Mel plays Martin Riggs, a suicidal detective who is depressed over his wife’s death. Danny Glover is his soon-to-be retiring new partner. Oil and water. The holidays are tough for Riggs as they get mixed up in a drug smuggling ring of ex-commandos. Things are tough for Glover as well who has to put up with Riggs, as well as get his daughter back from the gang that kidnapped her. And, as Mel has shown us recently, he does crazy in is every day life just as well as he does it on screen. A bit of a bonus there.

Interesting side note, this movie was directed by Richard Donner, whose very next movie would be “Scrooged”. The only director with 2 flicks on this list. Plus, his last name is the name of a reindeer!

An iconic 80’s action (and Christmas) movie all the way around.

elf.jpg Elf – 2003

A newer movie for this list. Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf, a human who was raised in the North Pole by Santa and his elves. Eventually, he is just too damn big and they send him off to find his real dad, James Caan, in New York City.

I love Will Ferrell. In this movie he plays Buddy with almost childlike abandon. He really does seem to capture that general vibe you get from kids who have too much sugar in their system and are all hyped up for Christmas. Caan is the perfect crusty old man which is a staple role in family holiday movies. I like how this movie doesn’t cheat us by having Caan’s character turning overnight into the over the top sappy guy. Instead, some of his ice is melted and he comes out of the shell a little bit, but he is still the same guy. Very well done.

“Buddy the elf… what’s your favorite color?”


How The Grinch Stole Christmas – 1966

I know, this was made for tv. I know its only 30 minutes long (22 if you cut the commercials). But I’m putting it on this list. (However, I’m still pretending that that Jim Carrey abortion “The Grinch” never happened)

When I was a kid, if you got to watch a cartoon in prime time, that was a BIG deal. We had 4 channels. You saw cartoons after school and on Saturday mornings. That’s it. But this was one shown at night. One that your parents would watch with you! When it made its yearly appearance, it was an event. Much like the Charlie Brown Christmas special or Rudolph.

Plus, it was Dr. Seuss… who to us kids was like a god. A good rule of thumb is to not trust anyone who didn’t like Dr. Seuss growing up. They’re just not right.

Plus, it was narrated by Boris Karloff for chrissake! How cool is that?

la.jpgLove Actually – 2003

A surprise entry on this list, if I do say so myself. But, I figure I better have a film on here for the ladies.

This movie follows the loosely interconnected lives of 8 couples in London the month before Christmas. Some happy. Some, not so much. An amazingly star studded cast, it is practically a whose who for English actors. I’m pleased to point out that this makes Alan Rickman’s second appearance on this list (he was Hans Gruber in Die Hard).

The only thing I didn’t care for was shot taken at the US by portraying the President (Billy Bob Thornton) as a philandering ass-bag, just so the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) could look like a independent hero when he says ‘no’ to the US.

But none the less, still an enjoyable holiday movie, and definitely one you can watch with your women, guys. It is sure to score you some extra points with the old lady that you can use this time of year! (Pssst… guys, there is a little gratuitous nudity in this one too)
cv.jpg National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – 1989

Of course, no list would be complete without this movie. I will admit, however, that for years I resisted this movie. It just seemed that everyone loved this movie to the point that it turned me off. I think it might have had something to do with my feelings towards the people I knew who loved it more than anything. Disliking the movie out of spite.

But, in the past few years, I have re-discovered my enjoyment for this movie. Who can’t love the intrepid Clark Griswold who all he wants to do is have the best damn Christmas ever. And much like what happened on his cross-country journey to Wally World, things just don’t work out as planned.

And really, this movie has the best holiday blow-up ever captured on screen. Clark Explodes Listen to it here. “Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year…”

No to mention that this movie has given us a new term to describe that house on your block with the 25,000 imported italian twinkle lights… “Griswold-ian”

Well, there you have it. The short list of movies that I watch every year. I know, some of you will be appalled at what I’ve left off my list. Feel free to drop me a comment and lobby for your favorites. Who knows, maybe you can convince me to see them through new eyes and gain a new appreciation for them. Be it “Miracle on 34th St.” or “The Santa Clause” (which was actually pretty good, but has been killed by horrible looking sequels, that I refuse to see).

I’m interested to hear you opinions!

Merry Christmas everyone. Now, go watch a movie tonight!

On the Borat Bandwagon

I admit it. I was not excited for this movie much leading up to its release. I had seen a few clips of Sasha Baron Cohen’s character online and really wasn’t sure what the appeal was. Amusing, I suppose, but I guess I just wasn’t down.

Well, as you probably know, the movie was released last weekend. As the reviews starting coming in, something strange happened… It was good! According to, Borat is one of the highest rated movies of the entire year at 94% fresh! That means that of the 146 reviews of the movie (from professional reviewers) only 8 gave it a negative review. Unbelievable. This movie is reviewed better than The Departed (92%), which is to date the best movie I’ve seen this year.

So, wanting to see what all the buzz was about, Jess and I went to see the movie on Monday (since Monday Night Football was such a dog). I will say this… I have not laughed like that in a LONG time! I can’t remember seeing a movie that made me belly laugh so long and so hard. Quite possibly, this is the funniest movie I have ever seen start to finish. Brilliant use of the naive and inappropriate angles to create genuine humor. Tremendous.

That being said, it is most assuredly not for everyone. In our relatively sparse crowd Monday night, we had a total of 8 people walk out. Mom, don’t go to this movie. Kim, you could probably skip it too. Chris, Chris and George, go immediately! Have a drink or two before you go and enjoy the ride. I am not going to discuss any of what happens in the movie because there is no way I could do it justice. So I won’t even try. When I left I had tears running down my face and my diaphragm was sore as hell.

Well worth it, if I do say so myself.