Thursday, January 26, 2012

PCP on DVD - 30 films from 2011 quick reviews

Welcome back to CRAPOLA, and the PCP section – Pop Culture Panorama.  As I mentioned in my previous post, my world got a little busy over the last few months as my wife went through her final trimester, our son was born, and I was also taking MBA courses full time, in addition to working.  Thus, I once again developed a backlog of movies to review.  I have 30 movies that I haven’t reviewed yet from 2011 that I caught on blu-ray recently.  In the effort to save time, here are my quick thoughts on all of them, in alphabetical order.  Now once again I’ll have my backlog cleared out, and can hopefully resume live reviewing of movies as I watch them.

Arthur.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Russell Brand is touching and enjoyable to watch in this quirky indie-ish romantic comedy.  It’s also nice to see Jennifer Garner play against her regular type, acting here as a cold domineering bitch.

Bad Teacher.  My rating:  5 out of 10.  It has a couple funny moments, but it falls short of its potential given its incredibly talented funny cast.  Jason Segel was probably the best part of this movie.

Bridesmaids.  My rating:  9 out of 10.  Extremely funny and touching at the same time.  If you never saw this, you missed out, it was great.  A very talented and funny ensemble cast turns in a great performance, and it was nice to see Kristen Wiig in a role that didn’t make me want to change the channel, unlike some of her annoying SNL characters.

Captain America: The First Avenger.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  A great telling of the Captain America origin story, filmed with great retro feel.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of this version of the character in The Avengers as well as the inevitable Captain America 2.

The Change-Up.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  This film was actually funnier than I thought it would be.  Maybe because I’m at a transitional spot in my life now with the recent birth of my son, but I enjoyed this film a lot, especially the parts where they are showing the struggles with parenting, especially the middle of the night feedings and diaper changes.  A very funny cast turns in solid performances, and I can definitely watch this film again.

Colombiana.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  Zoe Saldana takes names and kicks ass as an assassin in this action flick from the writers of Taken.  The action sequences and kills are very well done and very entertaining, and Saldana is chilling as the stone-cold killing machine.

Courageous.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  A good film with a pretty strong and powerful message.  Wasn’t in theaters long (which is where I saw this), but comes out on DVD in January 2012.  A bit preachy, but considering that it was filmed by Evangelical Christians, that’s not surprising.

The Dilemma.  My rating:  4 out of 10.  Not particularly funny, despite being marketed as a comedy.  It’s kind of like Vince Vaughn’s other film The Break-Up in which there aren’t enough laughs to overcome a depressing story.  Don’t waste your time.

The rest of the reviews are after the jump, including all the summer blockbusters.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

POS - And Then There Were Five

Welcome back to CRAPOLA.  Today I’ll be making my first post under the section of POS – Politics or Stupidity.  It’s a look at the Republican primary field and my predictions for what we will see in the next few weeks.

This has been a long and interesting political season for the campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.  With the withdrawal of Jon Huntsman (my personal favorite in the race), that leaves only 5 remaining candidates for the nomination.  This is my prediction of the order in which they will drop out from here on out.

What comes after 2 again?
1.  Rick Perry.  The Texas governor will not be saved by making his Alamo last stand in South Carolina.  The conservative vote is too fractured between Perry, Santorum, and Gingrich for any of them to build a sizeable challenge to Romney, which hurts all 3 of them but hurts Perry the most.  Perry’s continuous debate gaffes such as forgetting how to count to three, as well as the fact that most of us remember what happened the last time a Texas governor became president, spells doom for his campaign.  He’ll finish no better than 4th in South Carolina, and then he’ll quit the race within 48 hours of that primary.

**Update - When I predicted Perry would quit within 48 hours of South Carolina, I thought it would be within 48 hours AFTER the election there, not within 48 hours before of it.  He surprised me by quitting early today, a day after I'd posted this.

2.  Rick Santorum.  The other conservative in the race named Rick, this one with the unfortunate Google problem (don’t know what I mean? Just go google Santorum and you’ll see), has the support of far-right Republicans but will draw next to no support from moderate Republicans.  His views turn off the majority of independents and moderates you’d need for a general election victory anyways, so a Santorum candidacy might as well just hand victory to Obama right now.  Seriously, if this guy wins the nomination, Obama will crush him.  I see Santorum dropping out after Florida's primary January 31 unless by a miracle he wins South Carolina or Florida, but I don't see either of those happening.  If he wins or comes very close in those though, I can see him sticking until Super Tuesday also, which would flip him and Ron Paul's spots on this list.

3.  Ron Paul.  Ron Paul isn’t even a Republican, he’s a Libertarian.  If he’s truly serious about being a presidential nominee, he should run 3rd party as a Libertarian and be done with it.  Some of his views are so extreme that they turn off all of the moderates (pull out of everything overseas period, despite how that would leave our military unable to respond to any global threats), and some of his views (legalize all the drugs, just to name one) turn off all the social conservatives.  Despite his rabid fanbase, he’ll also bow out soon.  His fanbase will keep him in it through the Nevada caucuses on February 4th, maybe even through Colorado on February 7th, or all the way to Arizona on Feb 28th.  He might just stick it out until Super Tuesday also just to be obnoxious.

4.  Newt Gingrich.  Although Newt has less support than Paul in many polls, he has one thing the other 3 candidates above don’t have – a boatload of money.  The PACs and Super-PACs supporting Gingrich are flooding the airwaves in key battleground states with anti-Romney ads.  Since he has the money, and the ego, I see Gingrich being the last to concede to Romney, and he’ll go down kicking and screaming.  Unless Romney blows out everyone with wins in South Carolina and Florida where he picks up more than 50% of the vote, Gingrich will hang in the race until Super Tuesday on March 6th because he can afford to do so.

That leaves us with the Republican nominee, the Romney-bot version 2.012.  How effective he’ll be in the general election remains to be seen.  As of right now, the economy is starting to finally, maybe, hopefully pick up some steam.  This will give Obama some leverage over Romney-bot.  Also, the concerted effort by the other candidates to tear down Romney has become a gift that keeps on giving to the Obama campaign.  Obama will simply keep using the same arguments against Romney that his own party rivals are using, such as the fact that he’s an out of touch millionaire making $10,000 bets, or the fact that he only pays taxes at a 15% rate, or that he’s been pro-life for less time than Kim Kardashian has been famous.  The Romney-bot is a calculating political machine, pandering whenever he feels it will help him.  Unfortunately, all that pandering is making him appear to be a flip-flopper, and Democrats can’t wait to tar Romney with that brush just like Kerry was in 2004. 

Romney’s quote about enjoying firing people is going to haunt him as well.  I won’t be surprised if every single campaign commercial for the rest of the election includes that sound bite, even if it is about something other than the economy.  He really blew his own foot off with a grenade launcher on that one.  Ultimately, Obama is going to paint this election as a choice between the working class man working for the middle class versus the out of touch corporate greed machine that mercilessly guts companies and hands out pink slips by the bucket load.  Yes it is class warfare, and it is going to work spectacularly for the Obama campaign, giving him four more years in office.

Oh what might have been:  Tim Pawlenty has to be kicking himself for not staying in this race longer; and Mike Huckabee has to be asking himself why he didn’t enter the race in the first place.  Both would have been great alternatives to Romney-bot, but both left the race or didn’t even enter it in the first place, more than a year ago.  Oh well.  I’ll also miss the underappreciated Huntsman.  Here’s a guy that could actually appeal to moderates like myself because he actually believes in Global Warming.  But, after hearing that and his stance on Evolution (that’s real too) as well as the fact that he puts country ahead of party, spelled his doom because the Tea Party wing of the party could never support anyone that was willing to work with or compromise with the Democrats for the sake of getting things done (such as the Mandarin speaker being the ambassador to China under Obama).  It just shows how wide the divide has become in our country, where a politician who puts the country before himself and his party is actually punished for putting the needs of the country first.  Why has that become so horrible?  It just goes to show how screwed we are as a country as long as politics is so fractious.  Oh well.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

PCP in Theaters - Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol; Breaking Dawn pt 1.

Welcome back to CRAPOLA!  In the last trimester of my wife’s pregnancy, we managed to squeeze in 2 last movies in theaters before having our son Jackson.  In fact, one of them we saw the night before our son’s birth, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.  So, in honor of these being the last 2 movies I’ll be seeing in theaters for awhile (probably until this summer when Dark Knight Rises comes out) I’ll do reviews of these movies while they’re still actually in theaters.  Also, at the end of this post there will be quick blurb reviews of 5 older movies that I also recently caught on DVD.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.  2011, Rated PG-13.  133 minutes.  Starring:  Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, & Michael Nyqvist.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

Pixar director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) makes the jump to live action in his first job directing actual humans as opposed to animated creations.  Based on this film, the 4th entry in the Mission: Impossible series, he made the jump successfully.  MIGP continues the franchise from where it left off after JJ Abrams (here returning as producer) delivered the great 3rd installment in the series.  Back are Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg, and joining them in this outing are Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner.  Renner’s character, Brandt, was created to be a replacement for Tom Cruise in the event Cruise ever leaves the franchise, allowing them to continue on the franchise without him.  Cruise is great, and back to his fine form that he had before jumping on Oprah’s couch.  Simon Pegg is funny as the team’s comic relief.  Paula Patton sizzles as the team’s sex appeal also.

The film tours the globe, going to Russia, The United Arab Emirates, & India.  The sequences in Dubai are amazing, especially Cruise’s stunt work 130 floors off the ground on the world’s tallest building.  Obviously they used CGI to remove his wire harness that he was wearing, but the fact that he was still willing to do his own stunts 130 stories up in the air was very impressive.  The sequence with him hanging off the building was great, filled with both tension and humor.  Also a standout stunt work sequence was the final fight sequence between Tom Cruise & Michael Nyqvist in a car garage in India.  That was a very clever and very entertaining fight, with some very creative stunts that I have never seen before in a film.

All in all MIGP was very enjoyable, a perfect popcorn film that would have fit right in during the summer blockbuster season.  The action sequences are great, especially the Dubai sequence, the dialogue entertaining, and the cast works very well together and plays off of each other nicely.  There’s even a small role for Lost alum Josh Holloway (Sawyer) and holy cow he cut his hair!  If you liked MI3, go see this for sure.  If you stopped watching the MI series after the first 2 turned you off, go back and watch 3 and 4, they’re definitely the best in the series as far as I’m concerned.

One interesting note on seeing this movie in theaters opening weekend – before the film aired, there was the debut of the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.  That trailer garnered applause from the audience.  I’ve never seen that for a trailer before.

Read the rest of the reviews after the jump!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blog redesign - PCP is now CRAPOLA

Wow it has been awhile since my last post, over 3 months.  I have been a little busy in that time, as my wife was in her final trimester of pregnancy with our first child, who joined our family on 12/19/11, and we had a lot to do to get everything ready for his birth.  Now, in the new year, I realized I want to take my blog in a new direction, and get back to posting on a more regular schedule.  Thus, I am expanding my blog out from what it used to be.  In the past, my blog was simply PCP:  Pop Culture Panorama.  I realized that this limited me a bit, because I also want to post about things outside of the realm of pop culture.  I want to start posting on what it is like being a first time dad.  Also, 2012 is an election year, and I might get the urge at time to talk about what is going on in politics or the country at large.  Thus, I am changing my blog.

The blog’s new name will be Cohodes’ Ramblings and Pronouncements on Life, Art.  Here at CRAPOLA, I’ll blog about whatever I feel like blogging about that particular day.  I will have a header on each post that will tell you right off the bat what the post will be about.

PCP will be the header for Pop Culture Panorama.  This means any post with PCP at the start of the title will be about movies, TV, books, videogames, music, or anything else pop-culture related.

FML will be the header for Fatherhood Means Laughter.  These will be my posts on my adventures as my wife and I raise our little son, or my thoughts on the future of our family or my son’s life.

POS will be the header for Politics or Stupidity.  These will be posts dealing with news, politics, and any other random thing I feel like commenting on.

So, that is how my blog is going to be laid out from now on, with the posts divided right in the header so you the reader can easily tell what the post will be about.  I hope to post weekly or every other week, but as I am barely getting any sleep lately or having any free time, who knows what will happen.  I’ll try and make sure not to go 3+ months without posting anymore however.  Thanks for dropping by!