Tuesday, February 28, 2012

PCP - 15 movies I'm embarrassed to admit I've never seen.

Hi everyone and welcome back to CRAPOLA.  Today’s entry is another one in the Pop Culture Panorama section of my blog.  This post came out of a conversation I had recently on Twitter with Gordon McAlpin, the creator of the funny movie theater webcomic Multiplex.  We were discussing the recent prequel of The Thing (read my review of that here) and I was forced to admit that I had never seen the original movie directed by John Carpenter, much to my disappointment and embarrassment.  Obviously, anyone that knows me knows that I love movies.  I’ve seen over 1300 in my life, and I watch at least 2 movies a week, minimum.  Yet somehow, these movies are ones that I have never seen.  So, over time, I am going to watch these films and write reviews of them, better late than never!  These are the films that I am most embarrassed to admit I have never seen.  Hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments section of this post to tell me which movie from this list you’d like to see me review first!  Here’s the list, in alphabetical order.

  1. Ben-Hur
  2. The Big Lebowski
  3. Blade Runner
  4. Dazed & Confused
  5. Fargo Seen & reviewed
  6. Gone With the Wind
  7. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
  8. Goodfellas
  9. The Hurt Locker
  10. Lawrence of Arabia
  11. The Night of the Living Dead (original)
  12. Seven Samurai Seen & reviewed
  13. Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan
  14. Swingers
  15. The Thing (original) Seen & reviewed
Ok so those 15 are considered to be at least cult classics if not outright classics, and a number of them are on many top 100 all time film lists.  I even own over a third of them, I just haven’t gotten around to watching them yet.  So tell me which one you’d like to see reviewed first (in the comments, Facebook, or Twitter), and I’ll start a new series of reviews here on the blog where I review a movie from this list as a standalone, full length review.

Ok that’s all for today.  Check back later this week and I’ll have some reviews up for some more movies, or maybe a post based on the outcome of today’s GOP primaries in Arizona and Michigan in the POS section of my blog.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

PCP on DVD - 5-pack of 2011 Action flicks

Thanks for coming back to CRAPOLA.  It’s time for your next hit of PCP – Pop Culture Panorama.  Today I’ll be posting reviews of 5 2011 action movies that I caught on DVD recently, obviously after my big 2011 review clearout that you can read here.  They are:  Abduction; Cowboys & Aliens; Pirates of the Caribbean 4; Rise of the Planet of the Apes; & The Thing.  These films were a mix of boring, disappointing, surprisingly good, and average, in some cases all at once at the same time.  Read on to see which are worth watching, and which are not worth your time.

Abduction – 2011, Rated PG-13.  106 minutes.  Starring:  Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Sigourney Weaver, & Michael Nyqvist.  My rating:  5 out of 10.

Abduction is Hollywood’s attempt to cash in on the Twilight franchise and turn Taylor Lautner into an action star in his own right, without him having to turn into a werewolf.  In this film, he plays the son of Maria Bello & Jason Isaacs, or at least that is what he thinks.  However, he finds himself on a missing children’s website and realizes his parents aren’t who he thought they were.  Without spoiling too many details of the plot, it turns out that yes they weren’t his parents, but they weren’t the bad guys either, they were instead his bodyguards as his real dad is apparently someone really important to the U.S. government.  This means that the title of the film is false, there is no actual abduction, and we learn that about a quarter of the way into the movie.  Maybe a better title of the movie would have been something else, I dunno.

Lautner is forced to go on the run when the bad guys show up and off his bodyguards/parents, and he takes with him Lily Collins (daughter of singer Phil Collins) and her enormous eyebrows.  Seriously, that girl needs to pluck or wax or something.  If I didn’t know she was Phil Collins’ daughter, I’d think she was Martin Scorsese’s, they’re that huge, bushy and dark.  They’re also incredibly distracting and any time she is on screen my wife and I were laughing at how badly she needs a plucking.  Anyways, so Lautner & Collins are on the run, and the film follows typical action move tropes.  Lautner does show that he is capable of a good fight though, both in an early sparring match with Isaacs and later with a villain on a train.  Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina & Michael Nyqvist (playing the villain for the 2nd time in 2011, he also was the baddie of Mission Impossible 4) also turn up in the film in supporting roles.  It’s amazing that they were able to get so many quality actors to turn up in such an average movie.  Overall, this movie probably only will appeal to people on Team Jacob, or to teenagers in general.  To everyone else, don’t waste your time.

Cowboys & Aliens – 2011, Rated PG-13.  119 minutes.  Starring:  Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, & Sam Rockwell.  My rating:  5 out of 10.

When I first heard about this movie, bringing together James Bond, Indiana Jones/Han Solo, Thirteen, & directed by the director of Iron Man, I got really excited about the movie.  I like sci-fi, I like westerns, & I like the people involved in this flick.  I circled the date on the calendar that this would come out in theaters (although I had to wait for it on DVD) and I thought to myself at the time “what could possibly go wrong?”

The answer to that – a lot.  The film doesn’t do a great job of explaining things, it sort of just expects viewers to just sit back and watch Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford take names and kick alien ass.  Unfortunately, they’re not exactly sympathetic characters.  Ford in fact is pretty much a total douche for the majority of the movie.  It’s kind of painful to watch one of my favorite screen heroes playing such an awful character, when you’re so used to him being such a lovable icon.  They also don’t explain until way close to the end what the deal is with Olivia Wilde, and also how Daniel Craig has amnesia and got the alien weapon grafted on to his wrist.  Also, way too many of the scenes with the aliens take place in the dark, and as such there are not a lot of good looks at them.  It almost seems low-budget, or they are compensating for crappy CGI.  But when they do show the aliens, they look cool, so I wish they had shown more of them.  Also, the film never really explains why the aliens are abducting people.  That’s just left unresolved.  And finally, the film for good stretches is just boring or cliché.  Of all the movies in 2011 that I was most looking forward to, this one wound up being the most disappointing.

Read the other 3 reviews after the jump!

Monday, February 13, 2012

PCP - Top 10 Movies to Avoid on Valentine's Day

Hey everyone and welcome back to CRAPOLA.  Today’s post in Pop Culture Panorama (PCP) is in honor of the Valentine’s Day holiday, and is to help warn you what not to pick out to watch if you plan on cuddling up on the couch with a movie for the holiday.  It’s my list of 10 movies not to watch on Valentine’s Day (or any other romantic occasion) with your sweetheart.  I’m ignoring the obvious films that should never be watched on this sort of occasion, like Schindler’s List, because if you think that’d be a good Valentine’s Day movie you are seriously sick and twisted.  Instead, I’m listing 10 movies that I’ve seen that were portrayed as either romantic comedies or romantic dramas, but they are not uplifting or cheerful.  Instead, they will make your significant other break down and get all weepy, or otherwise just kill the romantic mood you are trying to set for the occasion.  That’s not to say these are bad films, some of them are actually quite good, but they are not to be watched if you are shooting for a romantic evening.  Don’t be like me and make a mistake by picking one of these movies off of the list, like I did with PS I Love You for our anniversary a couple years ago.  Horrible mistake, as I’ll explain why shortly.  This list is in no particular order, its just 10 films to avoid when you are trying to set a romantic mood.  Warning – SPOILERS AHEAD – I will be discussing just why these movies are to be avoided, and in doing so it is necessary for me to reveal some of the details of the plot, so for all 10 of these films there are spoilers.  Consider yourself warned.  Now on with the list:

1)  PS I Love You.  Starring Hilary Swank & Gerard Butler.  My rating:  7 out of 10. 
This film is the one that gave me the idea for this blog post.  My wife and I had our anniversary coming up, and I wanted to watch something nice and romantic for it with her.  The title sounded good, and there was a quote on the DVD case that called the film the “best romantic comedy in a very long time.”  I wish I could remember the name of the reviewer that said that, so I could find him and smack him upside the head.  This film is not so much a romantic comedy as a morbid getting over grief drama.  The plot has Hilary Swank’s husband, Gerard Butler, dying of a brain tumor 5 minutes in to the movie.  I look over at my wife and she is completely bawling her eyes out.  The crying continues throughout the movie as Swank has flashbacks to her time with Butler, and gets love notes delivered to her on special occasions, that he’d arranged for delivery before his death, to help her get over her loss.  The film is good and touching, but definitely not a romantic comedy, not by a long shot.

2)  Atonement.  Starring Keira Knightley & James McAvoy.  My rating:  8 out of 10.
My sister in law insisted that this was the most romantic film she’d ever seen, even more romantic and a better love story than Titanic, The Notebook, Pride & Prejudice, or any number of other films that my wife’s other sisters thought were great romantic movies.  I’m sorry, but any romantic drama set against the backdrop of WWII and featuring death and destruction on a large scale, as well as false accusations of rape, isn’t my idea of a love story.  The twist ending doesn’t help the film’s cause either, where it’s revealed (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) that the two lovers Knightley & McAvoy actually both died during the war, and everything we’d seen since the WWII sequence was the plot of a book written by Knightley’s sister where she came clean on the false rape accusation and wrote a book imagining what life Knightely and McAvoy would have had had they survived the war (they wouldn’t have been in harms way were it not for the false rape accusations).  Learning the whole movie was the equivalent of a dream kind of kills the romance of the story.  It is a good movie though, and it earned its 7 Oscar nominations.

3)  Silk.  Starring Keira Knightley & Michael Pitt.  My rating:  7 out of 10.
The story of a silkworm trader, who travels long distances (from France to Japan) and falls in love with a Japanese girl despite having Keira Knightley back home waiting for him.  The film is beautifully shot, but ultimately it’s a tale of death, loss, and adultery.  Not exactly an uplifting film.

Read # 4-10 after the jump!

Friday, February 10, 2012

FML - What I've learned so far in 7+ weeks as a father

Welcome back to CRAPOLA for today’s entry in the FML (Fatherhood Means Laughter) section of my blog.  It has now been seven weeks since my son Jackson was born.  In that time I am amazed at how quickly I have learned some things about parenting, and I have also become surprised at just how little sleep I need to function.  I still can’t believe that it has been seven weeks already, the time is really starting to move fast.  Maybe that’s because I’m in a daze a good portion of the time from sleep deprivation?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that I’m having a great time being a dad.  It truly is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  I look at my son’s face every day with a sense of wonder and amazement, and I think it’s still registering in my brain the thought of “holy crap I’m a dad!”  I’m looking forward to watching him continue to progress and grow, and I eagerly await the future (see my post on what I’m looking forward to sharing with him when he gets older here) of this crazy ride I find myself on.

I’ve learned some amazing things in the past few weeks, things that no one told me about, often through trial and error.  In an attempt to help those that will become parents themselves in the future, I thought I’d share with you today some of the things that I have learned.

On diapers and changing – I have learned a lot of things here, things that they didn’t teach me or my wife Sittie in our newborn parents class.  One thing that I have learned is to make sure you never ever position your body below his feet when changing a baby.  Always have the baby perpendicular to you when changing a diaper.  Sittie found this out the hard way when she stood at his feet while changing him, and he proceeded to fart and poop at the same time, spraying her with poop.  I nearly died laughing when that happened.  Another thing I learned about diaper changes is to not rush and change him right away when he poops.  The initial passing of gas or small amount of poop can be the tip of the iceberg for a bigger poop, and if you don’t give it five minutes, you’ll just wind up changing the baby a 2nd or 3rd time in a matter of minutes as he keeps producing poop.  We wasted a number of diapers that way.  Speaking of diapers, the brand name ones are far superior to the generics, if only because of a really convenient feature they have.  There is a yellow line down the center of the diaper that turns blue once exposed to urine, so you can see without having to open the diaper to check if the baby has gone # 1 or not.  That’s a big time saver and really convenient in the middle of the night.

Read the rest of my discoveries, including a funny story that happened to my mother-in-law after the jump!