Sunday, November 21, 2010

Episode 23: "The Babysitter's Club"

Here comes one of the terrible movies on my list for Brian to enjoy.  If you're a girl from the late 80s-early 90s, you are very familiar with "The Babysitters Club."  If you're my age and don't remember it, you may want to pull out your Elementary School time capsule and dig out an old Scholastic book catalog and browse the choices.  You will find "The Babysitters Club" in between the ad for "Sweet Valley Twins" and the latest Judy Blume book.  It was all the hype.  Young pre-teen girls were becoming entrepreneurs and taking business tips from Christy and her friends for their own babysitting proceeds. 

Get ready folks, here comes my confession.  I never read a single "Babysitters Club" book.  Not a single one.  I was a true Francine Pascal supporter.  I wanted to be a Sweet Valley Twin.  As a kid, I would have done anything to be a blonde teenager twin but with a name like Lisa or Tiffany.  "The Babysitters Club" was Francine's competitor.  It would be like eating a slice of Pizza Hut when everyone knows, Domino's has my heart. 

BUUUUT, Sweet Valley made a TV show (WHICH I WATCHED) but never a movie.  This girl needs a cheesy teeny bopper movie on a sick day.  I gave into the temptation and betrayed my friends in Sweet Valley.  Yeesh, that confession was difficult. 

Here are just a few of the classic terrible moments that stole my heart in a bullet point display:
-Young Schuyler Fisk played the main character.  She was TERRIBLE, but improved her acting skills for "Orange County" as a teen.  Then let go of her acting career and made an incredible choice to switch to singing.  I adore her now.
-Young Rachel Leigh Cook was just as awful in this flick as she is in EVERY OTHER MOVIE.  How does she have a career?  She doesn't move her mouth when she talks.  She's full of mumbles.
-Oh there are classic editing mistakes.  It is great fun to try and catch them all.
-The Mean Girls wore Dr. Martens.  I would have done anything to have a pair of those boots.  They weren't the regular brown kind, they were metallic, pastel, and flower pattern.  That was THE definition of cool.
-One of the guys from "Saved by the Bell: The New Class" played an older teen foreigner that won over the heart of a 13 year old.  At the time, I felt dreamy just thinking about some older teen foreigner sweeping me of my feet.  Now, I'm totally creeped out by the plot.  The girl was 13 and he was like 18.  He would've been arrested.

Those are just a few memorable moments that make this movie...awesome.  I know it's terrible, but I still like to watch it.  I can't help but love those awkward pre-teen girls as they're not cool enough to own Dr. Martens like the Mean Girls.  I can relate to them. 

Oh what I would give for a Sweet Valley movie,

This review is a long time coming considering we watched "The Babysitters Club" in August. It's difficult to remember good movies from four months ago, let alone this catastrophe. But, for all its awfulness, this movie is an unintentional comedy GOLD MINE. Great Odin's raven, there's so much to mock!

First of all, as Lindsey mentioned, all of the cast are magnificently poor actors. Rachel Leigh Cook is like a robot but not a cool robot like the Terminator; no, a barely-mobile robot like the little girl from "Small Wonder." And it's a good thing Schuyler Fisk can sing because there's no chance she would have any sort of a career without her voice. What an ugly kid she was, too. It's sad, really. They dress her up to make her look like a tomboy but really, she's just ugly. The rest of the cast is equally bad.

Second, who made this movie? I understand that movies play to their audience. Most kids movies are geared toward kids, obviously. This one is different. This movie plays out like it was written, directed, edited, produced, and distributed by a group of 12 year old girls. The HUGE plot point involving the older teenage boy sort-of dating the 13 year old girl? What is that about?! I feel like this was supposed to be funny but really, that guy is a sex offender now. How was that given the green light? And the shot selection and long takes are excruciating. Most people never notice camera work or editing unless it's really great or really horrendous. Well let me tell you, this one is the latter. Our viewing group probably spent a third of the movie laughing over scenes that ostensibly ended 20 seconds before the cut and shots that were off center for no reason.

Third, and most importantly, I will never forget the pancake scene. At some point, Schuyler Fisk's character (whose name was probably Ryan or Alex or something real tomboyish to help hide the ugly) goes out into the woods with her estranged father (again, no one at the studio thought this was strange) who cooks her mouse pancakes. Only they don't look like mice. No, nothing even close to mice. What do they look like, you ask? Sperm. They look like sperm! We had to pause the movie while we all freaked out and collected ourselves up off the floor. Oh the laughter! And no one in post production thought, "Huh, you know what? Those mouse pancakes look nothing like mice but instead the most unfortunate, inappropriate thing an estranged father could show his pre-teen daughter in the middle of the woods. Maybe we should change that."

So, needless to say, "The Babysitters Club" is an awful movie. But it did bring at least one new inside joke into my repertoire and for that I'll cut it a break.

Grade: C-

I only read the Boxcar Children books growing up,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Episode 22: "Jaws"

"Jaws" is a movie that requires very little introduction so instead we'll focus on the rockin' viewing party we threw this time around.

This summer I took three of my buddies down to the Texas coast for a deep sea fishing expedition. It's a trip I've made a couple dozen times over the years but the first for my friends. Company and shenanigans excluded, it was easily the worst trip I've been on. The boat was overcrowded, the water was seriously rough, the fish weren't biting, and my friend Daniel spent the entire trip, um, chumming the water so to speak. And then our luck changed dramatically when, within a span of 30 minutes, Jason and I both hooked and reeled in sharks. Like I said, I've been on a bunch of these trips and never caught anything bigger or more exotic than a red snapper. I cannot begin to describe the fight that a 42 inch thresher shark can put up nor the adrenaline that the fight induced. I immediately went and started a bar room brawl because I was so jacked up. It was one of the coolest moments of my life and something I will brag about at every opportunity until I no longer have friends to brag to.

When I told Lindsey about my owning of the sea, her mind immediately went to the awesome party we (see: "she") could throw wherein we would start the night off with Shark Week (yes, this was months ago), eat the shark I caught, and finish up with a showing of the incomparable "Jaws." We termed it the "Shark, Shark, and Shark" party because, really, what else would we call it? And so our friends gathered for the Shark, Shark, and Shark party and good times were had by all (even Daniel who we mocked mercilessly all night over his puking).

Anyway, "Jaws" is my favorite thriller/scary/horror movie of all time. The tension is palpable throughout, the action sequences are top notch for its time, and the characters are absolutely perfect. Seriously, they're perfect. In fact, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider), Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and especially Quint (Robert Shaw) would all make my "Favorite Characters" list were I to make one. Here's the thing: there's more than a hint of cheesiness to "Jaws" (especially when watching it 35 years after it debuted). If these actors don't completely NAIL their roles and bring humanity and even realism to the table, this movie doesn't hold up near as well as it does. How Shaw wasn't nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work here is beyond me. Maybe more importantly, this is one of the rare scary movies that can actually freak you out. Not frighten or gross you out the way a horror movie does but literally mess with your life. I am openly terrified of sharks to the point that I will not willingly step into the ocean and that illogical fear is due in large part to the abject horror "Jaws" brought into my life. I can only imagine how messed up I would be if I'd seen this movie in a theater. On top of all that, "Jaws" launched the career of a struggling young director named Steven Spielberg who's done alright for himself. And when you know the back story of this movie's SERIOUSLY troubled production (definitely worth a Google search), it's an amazing achievement in film. A.

Best Character: Sam Quint
As I mentioned, all three of the main characters are excellent but dude, Quin is a-mazing. Perfect.

Best Scene: Who has the better scar?
After a rough day chasing the giant shark from hell, the crew gets drunk and start comparing scars, leading to the hauntingly unforgettable moment in which Quint describes his experience as a survivor of the USS Indiana. This is not only one of the best scenes in film history, it also shed some light on a horrible yet important event from World War II that not a lot of people knew about at the time.

Best Line: Chief Brody's, "You're gonna need a bigger boat" is too easy. I've always enjoyed:
Quint - "Back home we got a taxidermy man. He gonna have a heart attack when he see what I brung him."

Did I say I caught a shark?

"Jaws" through Lindsey's eyes:

I've always had the desire to see "Jaws" but just never got around to it.  Finally, a movie on the list that I'm actually excited about!  Man oh man, when Brian caught that shark, I got REALLY pumped.  If you know me, you know I love hosting themed parties.  Well folks, no one could ever top this theme.  I mean seriously, the stars aligned for all of these events to happen.  I think the only party theme that could even come close, is my "What About Ka-Bob?" Party that I've been planning in my head.  Oh how I love "What About Bob?" AND kabobs. It would be awesome, right?

So WHO KNEW that the guy from "Sea Quest" was famous before "Sea Quest"?!  I sure didn't!  I thought "Sea Quest" was his one-hit wonder.  I was super pumped to see Young Sea Quest Guy.  Sadly, his skin looked super old and leathery back then as well.  When are these people going to discover skin cancer and actually take care of their skin?

Well speaking of "What About Bob?", WHO KNEW that the guy from "What About Bob?" was famous before "What About Bob?!"  I sure didn't!  I thought "What About Bob?" made Richard Dreyfuss' career!  I was totally shocked that he was in this film and that he apparently is super arrogant.

So WHO KNEW that the annoying girl from "The Bachelor" was famous before her engagement to Jake Pavelka on "The Bachelor"?  I sure didn't! I had no idea that Vienna was able to time-travel back to play the wife of Sea Quest Guy on this movie.

Well folks, apparently the technology used to time travel and create a "Jaws" shark just amazed me.  I wasn't even aware that this kind of world existed.  "Jaws" sure brought great suspense and a great party into my life.  I will ALWAYS remember my first "Jaws" experience.  I will never watch this movie again, unless I'm eating a shark.

I think I only screamed 3 times,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Episode 21: "The Incredibles"

"The Incredibles" centers around a family of would-be superheroes who are required to keep a low profile due to some legal issues that force all "supers" to stay underground. The suburban life isn't working for Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), who takes on some freelance work for a mysterious businessman. Soon, however, he discovers his would-be benefactor is actually a super-villain known as Syndrome (Jason Lee), a guy he scorned in the past. Without warning the entire Incredible family is wrapped up in the fight.

Did I really need to summarize "The Incredibles"? I don't feel like I did because I'm pretty sure Lindsey was the only human who hadn't seen this movie. It's incredible! (Haha, see what I did there?) As always, Pixar brings the goodness in every facet of movie making. The story is ridiculously strong, the shots and cinematography (as it were) is outstanding, and the voice talent is perfect. In 2004 I remember thinking, "Craig T. Nelson? Really? We're going to hang the next Pixar movie on the talents of Coach?" And yet, every time I watch this movie, I am reminded of just how wrong I was. Nelson is the perfect choice for Mr. Incredible and the same goes for all the talent around him.

This movie might be my favorite of all the Pixar features but choosing a true "best" or "favorite" from their catalog is nearly impossible. In their own way each of them sets a standard for other filmmakers, regardless of whether they're making an animated of live-action film. We in the room debated the "best" and "worst" of the Pixar universe while almost unanimously conceding that the worst for Pixar could conceivably be the best for just about any other studio, director, writer, etc. My "worst" is "Ratatouille" which was nominated for a stinking Oscar. You're doing pretty good when your worst film has some Academy love. I think I love "The Incredibles" the most, however. It's weird to say about a movie that features a host of super human, mutant powers, but "The Incredibles" is extremely real to me in a way that maybe no other Pixar movie (with the exception of "Up") is. The family dynamics, the perceived boredom of suburban life, and even the actions of Syndrome are quite authentic for me. The whole superhero thing certainly doesn't hurt my opinion, though.

Grade: A+

Best Character: Dash
How's it possible to not love Dash? He's just a funny kid who happens to be the fastest human in the world.

Best Scene: Suit Show and Tell
There's a lot of excellent scenes in this movie but I crack up every time Edna shows Helen/Elastigirl the features of her family's new suits.

Best Line:
There aren't a lot of iconic lines as most of the dialogue is quick back-and-forth. My favorite little hidden gem though is the muttering of an off screen henchman watching on TV as Syndrome's robot attacks the city:
"Every time they scream, we take a shot." Genius.

This might be Samuel L. Jackson's last good movie,

"The Incredibles" through Lindsey's eyes:

I went through a period of life where I didn't make Disney movies a priority.  I know, I should be thrown into The Disney Vault for a crime like that.  If it wasn't for Brian, I wouldn't see every movie that comes into the theaters.  When "The Incredibles" debuted, I didn't care too much about spending my money in theaters. They just keep raising the prices! I can be cheap, OK?  So the movie released in theaters, then to DVD, and it just never came up.  I was past the age of babysitting, so rarely do you just stumble across a Disney movie playing in a young adult's apartment.  Thanks to Brian and The List, I am now up to speed with Pixar (with the exception of Cars and Monsters Inc).

Well, of course, I loved it.  I loved the characters, the plot, animation, everything.  Now as I've learned more about Pixar movies through Brian, I have discovered the voices.  I always wonder about the voices behind the character and try to recognize them.  Brian has shared his knowledge that many actors continue to play roles in several Pixar movies.  Who knew that John Ratzenberger had a career past "Cheers"?  So now as I watch these films, I ask a lot of questions about the voices which led me to my next debate.

I asked about each character in this movie, then along came Gilbert Huph.  I asked, "So who provides the voice for the boss?"  Brian replied, "Wallace Shawn.  He also plays Rex in Toy Story."  I said, "Wallace Shawn?!  The guy from The Cosby Show?!"  The whole crowd went silent, because they had no idea what I was talking about.  Everyone else referred to him as the guy from "The Princess Bride." I do not make any reference to "The Princess Bride;" it's not my show.  We then had a big conversation over Wallace Shawn.  If I'm going to look back at his works, I would start with "The Cosby Show", then move to "Clueless", and finally to "Clueless" the TV show.  Does anyone else in this world refer to him as "The Cosby Show" guy?  He was a memorable recurring character, c'mon!

Mr. Hall was way harsh,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Episode 20: Waiting for Guffman

There are a lot of Firsts in my days. My First pair of Umbros that were half teal and half purple. My First dance recital that was spent messing with my hair rather than dancing. My First dog Cocoa that shared her dog food when I was curious about the taste. My First trip to Disney World where I slept most of the trip on my uncle's shoulders. My First CD that I owned, New Kids on the Block's Merry Merry Christmas. My First adult apartment with painted yellow walls. My First viewing of Titanic in the theater that was quickly followed by 4 more views. My First man to fall in love with, Davy Jones. Finally, My First Mockumentary with "Waiting for Guffman."

Introduced in high school, "Waiting for Guffman" was my first mockumentary experience. The first time I viewed this movie, I thought it was boring, but I laughed to look cool. Then after the 2nd or 3rd time, I loved it. I was able to see the humor and appreciate this new movie genre. I love "Best in Show" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous" but I think this movie will always be my number one mock, because it was my first.

I can relate to this movie so well due to my life experiences. Half of my year is spent choreographing and preparing for a musical production. My love for dance quickly translated into musical theater at a young age. I can't sing or act, but I can dance and react to a scene. I have sat through many rehearsals judging those actors with their choreography. I have been a part of MANY entertaining productions, but not quite as as good as we all believed them to be. This movie is my life. The actors in this movie have all portrayed a personality that I've worked with. If you have any experience in theater, this is a must see.

A penny for your thoughts,

First off, on numerous occasions I have advised Lindsey not to share that bit about trying dog food. She refuses to listen. My next step is to mock her mercilessly in hopes that she'll tuck that bit of info into the back of her mind and never let it out again. She's ruined several business deals for me with this story. (That's not true on any level.)

Second, I, too, love the mockumentary. "The Office" is my favorite TV show of all time, not to mention the others that have followed the example like "Parks and Recreation" and "Modern Family." (In fact, "The Office" might be responsible for the saving of the American sitcom. More on that another time.) "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is without question my favorite movie from Lindsey's list so far. And then there's the entire Christopher Guest collection.

A brief primer for those out of the loop. "Waiting for Guffman" is a mockumentary based around the inhabitants of Blaine, Missouri and the play the local "thespians" put together to honor the town's history. The group is led by Corky St. Clair, a man who once went to New York and (possibly) spent some time off-off-off Broadway. As their production gets closer, word reaches Corky that a New York stage critic (Mr. Guffman) will be attending the performance. Hilarity ensues.

Here's my deal with the works of Guest. I almost never laugh or "lol" as the kids call it these days. I chuckle from time to time and I probably grin a little from time to time, but I don't just go nuts with the laughter. I absolutely appreciate what he does and recognize the genius. "Best in Show" in particular is INCREDIBLE in a way that you can't understand unless you've seen it. But I don't laugh. I feel like I'm always saying to myself, "that's really funny" but it's just not the kind of funny that elicits laughter. I think the "problem" (if you can call it that) is how real Guest's characters are. All of his movies are magnificent character studies, better than almost any actual documentary. Everyone else who does a mockumentary takes normal human characteristics and exaggerates them to play up the humor. Guest doesn't do that. The people of Blaine, Missouri are people that I know. Everyone knows a Corky St. Clair. None of Guest's characters do anything over the top or extra ridiculous, they just talk, think, and act exactly the way you know people like this really do. It's almost too surreal to laugh at because you're in awe of how authentic these weirdos are.

So despite the fact that there was very little LOLing and certainly no ROFLing from my side of the couch, I found "Waiting for Guffman" to be yet another excellent piece of work from a brilliant mind. Grade: A-

Favorite character: Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest)
As noted, all of these characters are A-MAZING but "Guffman" falls apart without an outstanding job by Guest in the lead role.

Favorite scene: The entire play
Seriously a genius 25 minutes. I think my eyes were wide and my mouth open throughout the entire thing. Perfect example of how well Guest understands his settings.

Favorite line:
Dr. Pearl (Eugene Levy): "People say, 'You must have been the class clown.' And I say, 'No I wasn't. But I sat next to the class clown and I studied him." (Completely straight delivery from a dentist who is clearly only funny on the unintentional level.)

Don't eat dog food, kids,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Episode 19: "Wish Upon a Star"

There are a few things that make the recipe for a great movie in my book.  All I need are the following items: high schoolers, popular girl and nerdy girl switch places, and makeovers.  Give me at least two of those things and I can guarantee you I will love the movie. I can pull out the inner 8 year old in me pretty quickly when it comes to these dumb movies.  I know the whole time that they are not Good Movies, but I enjoy them.  "Wish Upon a Star" includes all of those wonderful items.  I knew Brian would love this movie because of the plot and his favorite actress, Katherine Heigl.

This movie is the classic Disney Channel Original Movie plot with the popular older sister and nerdy younger sister making a wish on a star (duh, check out the title) and they switch places "Freaky Friday" style.  Of course this switch comes at THE worst time.  Poor Popular Sister has been nominated for Homecoming Queen and Nerdy Sister is about to submit her invention for the Science Fair.  I don't want to give TOO much away because I know you were already changing your Netflix Que when you read that this movie involves high schoolers switching places.  I won't completely ruin the movie for you, BUT I will say Popular Sister doesn't win because Regina George steals the crown after recovering from her bus accident.

This is a girly movie all the way through, but it's still a great "I'm home sick and need something on" movie.  In high school and college, this movie made the rotation along with "Clueless" and "10 Things I Hate About You" during every sick day.  Also, these girls wore some rockin' mid 90s outfits that you won't want to miss.

Thank you Mandy for always viewing this winner with me,

Obviously from Lindsey's description you can imagine my great concern going into "Wish Upon a Star."

Strike 1: mid-90s made-for-Disney-channel fluff.
Strike 2: cliche switching places by the two main characters. Seriously, how many times has this been done?
Strike 3: Katherine Heigl. I hate Katherine Heigl. I'm not sure exactly why I hate her, but I do. Maybe it's her insistence on movies that don't appeal to me or other normal humans ("Killers" for example), maybe it's that her character on "Grey's Anatomy" is one of my 10 least favorite characters in the history of TV, maybe it's just that her teeth bother me. Whatever it is, I can't stand her and her presence in a movie almost always makes me want to kick a small dog.

But I must say, as far as mid-90s cliche characters switching places movies starring Katherine Heigl go, this isn't half bad. Not good, you understand. I'm not adding "Wish Upon a Star" to my list of 100 Favorite Movies nor submitting it to AFI for their next rankings extravaganza. But it's not terrible. No small dogs were kicked, there was no gnashing of teeth, and I was able to sit through it with only minimal grunting, though this might be due, in part, to the number of Fruit by the Foots I ingested while viewing. (Fruit by the Feet?) You can't be really upset when eating Fruit by the Foot, can you?

Oh, but we're burying the lead here. Forget Katherine Heigl. The important player in this film is Danielle Harris. Who is Danielle Harris, you ask? Danielle Harris played T.K. Keiner (Harley Keiner's little sister) on "Boy Meets World," the preeminent coming-of-age story of our time. If you don't remember (how dare you!), Cory Matthews dated T.K. for one episode in the pre-Cory and Topanga Forever days of "BMW," ultimately breaking up with her despite threats from Harley. When I recognized T.K. I knew I couldn't hate "Wish Upon a Star" if for no other reason than the fact that it gave me time to ponder the greatness of "BMW" for one more hour of my day than I usually do.

Grade: C+

If only Regina George actually was in this movie,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Episode 18: "Iron Man"

First off, yeah, it's been a while. What can I say? We're busy, important humans. Plus there's a whole lot of great TV to watch in the Spring and classic movies take a back seat to Jack Bauer. Now on to the topic at hand.

I don't feel obligated to summarize "Iron Man" for three reasons:
1.) It premiered only two years ago;
2.) The sequel is currently rocking the box office;
3.) Everyone and my mom saw this. EVERYONE. It made $525 million dollars worldwide. I know for a fact that my dog has seen "Iron Man" a minimum of three times.

Lindsey, however, just missed out on seeing it. She and I weren't quite dating when it debuted so she wasn't contractually obligated to see the borderline action-packed guy movies like she is now. (I actually had that put into the marriage license.) Lucky for her, this sucker got franchised and I had to get her up to date before the open of "Iron Man 2." Thanks, Hollywood.

"Iron Man" is rare on two levels:

1.) It is an unapologetic comic-book-action-blockbuster that is extremely well written, directed, and acted. In fact, I would say there aren't 5 movies of the same genre from the last decade that are as good from a quality filmmaking standpoint as "Iron Man";
2.) It ranks high on rewatchability. I loved this the first time around and I've seen it a half dozen or so times since, but watching it last week was just about as good as the first time. It just doesn't get old.

Aside from the witty, comic dialogue that slyly tiptoes into campy territory and excellent action sequences, "Iron Man" holds a special place in my heart for vaulting one Robert Downey, Jr. back into the limelight. For my money, RDJ is one of the very best actors of his generation, and the movie world missed him during his self-inflicted, drug addled "vacation." Sure, he started his comeback in 2005 with "Good Night and Good Luck" (and the awesomely underrated "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") but "Iron Man" is what brought him back to stardom and my little piece of Movie World is so much better for it. All told, "Iron Man" is an absolute blast that I personally consider to be one of the best comic-book-inspired movies of all time, possibly second only to "The Dark Knight." A.

Best character: RDJ (Tony Stark)
Gwenyth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and Terrence Howard are all solid. But Downey was pretty much born to play Tony Stark.

Best scene: The prototype development
There are probably better scenes in the movie, but I just really enjoy Tony's back and forth with the robot and the destruction of his classic car collection.

Best line:
Pepper (walking in on Stark in the Iron Man suit): What is going on in here?!
Stark: Let's face it, this is not the worst thing you've caught me doing.

Rewatchability should be a real word,

"Iron Man" through Lindsey's eyes:

I wasn't ever AGAINST seeing "Iron Man" I just didn't have a desire. I know everyone saw the movie when it came out. Even my baby 3 year olds in my speech class saw this movie. I should be ashamed of myself for not catching the latest popular movie before a 3 year old that can't even say a 3-4 word sentence. There is no way these kids could have followed the story line and THEY gave it two thumbs up. So it must be able to hold my attention span throughout.

Before seeing the film, I knew I would like at least one thing, Robert Downey Jr. Oh Rob, how I loved you at such a young age. He made an impression in my life when I was just a young girl. "Chances Are" opened my heart to him. How could you not love a movie about a dead husband reincarnated into another body and later falling in love with his own daughter? Now THAT is movie masterpiece. Then came "Soapdish". That was the best movie I ever viewed in the Wedgwood Dollar Theater. I loved watching Rob and my dear Sister Act friend Whoopi while chomping on some cheap Dollar Theater Nachos. If people think "Iron Man" led him to a greater career, they are WRONG. His career peaked early in my life and now he's just playing roles to keep him busy and out of jail.

To be honest, I saw "Iron Man" right before I saw "Iron Man 2" so I actually can't tell the difference between the two. They're just all one movie in my mind. I was entertained the whole time and I would watch it again. I think I may have even said "I loved it" after the viewing. Thank goodness for a humorous movie. This girl can't take it when we have to watch a non-comedy. My mind is out the door fast.

Who knew Gwyneth Paltrow was in Iron Man,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Episode 17: "Heat"

"Heat" is a "Cops-and-Robbers" masterpiece that pits Robert DeNiro's master thief Neil McCauley against Al Pacino's workaholic detective Vincent Hanna. McCauley takes scores, Pacino tries to catch him. McCauley's crew is brutally efficient and they act without hesitation. Hanna's group of detectives are always a step behind and seem to hold him back. McCauley and Hanna become intrigued by each other, developing a great respect for one another despite being on opposite sides of the law. It is a brilliant cat and mouse game that they play, each convinced it will be the other who finally makes a mistake.

"Heat" is (for me) the best film of the "Cops-and-Robbers" genre from the last 25 years, maybe ever, and one of my top 10 favorite movies. It is an amazing piece of work all around; acting, writing, direction, sound, everything is near perfect. "Heat" has an outstanding pedigree: written and directed by Michael Mann (one of the best in the business), starring DeNiro and Pacino (on screen together for the first time), support by Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, and a tremendous host of other "name" actors. Virtually every person who has a line in this movie is "someone," a recognizable face, which doesn't always pay off but works well here.

Mann's writing is great and his story is a rare example of a writer/director taking on a wide ranging plot that goes in any number of directions and pulling it all together in exquisite manner. Mann's work is methodical, deliberate, which can lend itself to a boring result if you don't have incredible dialogue with excellent action interspersed. And "Heat" has those things. The action is so realistic that apparently footage of the shootout between the thieves and the police has been used by Marine instructors to show their trainees how to counter attack an ambush. Meanwhile the dialogue throughout is excellent, but the diner scene in which DeNiro and Pacino first speak is FREAKING INCREDIBLE. One of the best scenes ever in the history of the cinema.

It has been 15 years since "Heat" debuted and it is a bit surreal to watch it and it's superstar cast knowing what we know now. This is pretty much the peak for DeNiro, Pacino, and Kilmer. Minus a role here and there, all three have struggled MIGHTILY since this movie came out. It's been so long since we've seen DeNiro or Pacino in a role that forces them to act. Here Pacino is at his crazy, out of control best as opposed to DeNiro's quiet, menacing best. It is straight up WEIRD to see them both actually trying and bringing their respective A games. The way they work off of each other is truly a treat to watch and everyone around them brings it up a notch to stay in the same area code as the two stars. It is a crime that "Heat" wasn't a nominee for Best Picture in a year when "Babe" was (really? "Babe?" Come on) and how Mann's work behind the camera wasn't recognized is beyond me. A+.

Best character: Robert DeNiro, Neil McCauley
Pacino is equally amazing but I've always been a DeNiro fan and it's incredible to see him work on a role he actually cares about.

Best scene: The diner scene
Again, this was the first time Pacino and DeNiro had ever been on the screen together. You've got two of, at the time, the top five actors in the business going toe to toe with each other. Each brilliant line is only bettered by each man's tone, mannerisms, and expressions.

Best line:
Vincent Hanna: "You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we've been face to face, if I'm there and I gotta put you away, I won't like it. But I tell you, if it's between you and some guy whose wife you're gonna turn into a widow, brother, you are going down."
Neil McCauley: "There is a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down? Cause no matter what, you will not get in my way. We've been face to face, yeah. But I will not hesitate. Not for a second."

Somebody please write DeNiro a great script,

"Heat" through Lindsey's eyes:

Before I begin, I apologize to Brian.  I have not kept up with my writing.  The lack of blogging is all my fault and I hope to make it up soon.

Now, to the important stuff, "Heat" was soooo long.  I can see why Brian likes the movie, but I do not like Cops and Robbers movies, so I did not like "Heat".  Since the day Brian began discussing this movie, I have been absolutely dreading it.  There were quite a few nights that we almost watched it, but he would say "Oh, we don't have enough time, it's already pretty late."  It would be like 8:30 and I totally freaked out.  It's not only a movie I'm not interested in, but it's LONG! 

So, the day finally came, and we had to watch it.  Do you want to know what I did while I appeared to be watching this movie?  Do you?! I'll tell you.  I choreographed a complete dance to Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation, in my head.  That's right folks, one whole dance crossed off my list.

Since I have so much trouble paying attention to a movie of this nature, I of course get completely confused.  I really don't remember anything, except Natalie Portman all slashed up.  When I wasn't choreographing, I was trying to figure out if the actor I was watching was Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro.  I've always failed at remembering the difference between those two actors.  Throw Andy Garcia in the mix and I'm REALLY confused.  Thank goodness Brian doesn't hate me too much when I ask him dumb questions while trying to identify one of the three actors.

We are a part of the Rhythm Nation,