Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sh*t Sandwich

I enjoy looking through Rotten Tomatoes for movie reviews on good (and bad) films, and came across this line: "We have reached a point in our moviegoing life where the two most horrifying words a studio can mutter are "Robin" and "Williams."-John Anderson, Washington Post, reviewing Old Dogs.

Or how about this one from the same review: "When [Robin Williams] puts on the sad clown face, you may indeed laugh, at the tragedy of what happens with success in the movies, and in a culture where Americans demand so little. Travolta is simply useless in Old Dogs, but Williams is actively offensive, in the puerile manner by which he tries to milk sentimentality out of the wizened teat of Old Dogs, which will leave you howling, but only over the cost of the ticket." That is awesome. Someone's performance in a movie is so bad that it is "actively offensive."

The New York Post said: "Old Dogs does to the screen what old dogs do to the carpet. It's unfortunate that only the latter can be taken out and shot."

St. Paul newspaper: "Kids who suffer from progeria may be able to relate to Old Dogs, but it's hard to imagine anyone else fully appreciating it."

Or this: "Director Walt Becker can’t even pull off hits to the groin (you know they’re coming in a movie like this) with as much panache as an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos."

But of course, there is the lone critic who swims against the tide. Pete Hammond of Box Office Magazine offers the sole positive review of Old Dogs, raving that it is "An often riotously funny slapstick farce that ought to appeal to moviegoers of all ages...Robin’s in great form and has terrific chemistry with Travolta as they manage to recall a modern-day Abbott And Costello."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RIP Edward Woodward, 1930-2009

Why does Edward Woodward have so many "D"'s in his name? Because without them, his name would be "Ewar Woowar."

Known best to American audiences as the supercool ex-British intelligence officer turned vigilante Robert McCall in the TV series The Equalizer (1985-89), Woodward was a respected English actor of the screen, TV and stage. I have always enjoyed his work, expecially for the choices he made and the chances he took.

While the man had range and could play a variety of characters and circumstances, he was most effective playing the proper British (or Welsh or Australian) man with an outdated moral code thrown into extraordinary situations where that code is severely tested. This was present in The Equalizer (one of the 80's great forgotten shows), but even more prominent in his two most memorable film roles.

Woodward played the by the book devout Christian (and celibate) police investigator Neil Howie looking into a series of murders of young girls on the island of Summerisle in the British cult horror classic The Wicker Man (1973). Howie's inner and professional world are thrown into chaos as he realizes that he is dealing with the island's population who celebrate pagan Celtic rituals, including sexual rites and the worship of the sun. He matches wits with the island's religious and government leader, Lord Summerisle (a never creepier Christopher Lee). While Lee's role is the more flamboyant and memorable, it is Woodward, with his internal conflicts, who anchors the film and makes it more than merely a run-of-the-mill horror flick. It also features one of the most memorable final scenes in all of horror films.

ABOVE: Christoper Lee (left) and Edward Woodward (right) match wits in The Wicker Man. After Woodward objects to naked girls leaping over a fire hoping for supernatural impregnation, Lee calmly points out that "Jesus himself was the son of a virgin who was impregnated by a ghost, if I am not mistaken."

Woodward was even better in the title role of Breaker Morant (1980), a wonderful Australian film detailing the life and court martial of Australian folk hero Harry Morant. Not well known in America, Breaker Morant is one of the most highly acclaimed films in Australian cinema. Morant was a well educated military man, horse breaker and poet, who was put on trial for his alleged involvement in the execution of Boer prisoners of war and a German missionary during the Second Boer War. He is a highly controversial figure in Australian history, and Woodward is brilliant in capturing the complexities and contradictions of the man. A great film that is equal parts war film and gripping court room drama. (And also one of the films that just barely missed making Dez's Top 50 Films list).

ABOVE: One of my favorite scenes from Breaker Morant. The three Australian soldiers accused of war crimes discuss their case (that's a young Bryan Brown with the mustache). Woodward gives a great little speech on "a new kind of war," a speech that was as relevant for for Boer War at the turn of the 20th century as it was for Vietnam in the 1970's as it is for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan today.

RIP Edward Woodward.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Fun Trip Though Pop Culture...

My amigo Johannes sent this to me. The namesake of this blog appears somewhere in there. Can you identify all of the movies/TV shows?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hello Cleveland!

Bruce Springsteen made the classic rock star goof on stage recently in Detroit. Bruce was rocking the crowd and several times bellowed "Hello Ohio!" Only, Detroit is in Michigan. Guitarist Steve Van Zandt corrected The Boss about halfway through the show. The fans were forgiving, since he gave them one of his standard three hour marathons. Still, that's awesome.

Bruce is doing something pretty cool on this tour, though. He has decided to play his best loved records from start to finish at certain stops on the tour. He's already played Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Born in the USA and The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. I would love to hear that last one live front to back. My favorite Bruce record. Coming up he plans on playing double record The River all the way through. Considering that his current record Working on a Dream really sucks, it is a good thing he's giving so much attention to older records. Speaking of sucking, I've heard his recent Halloween tune "A Night With the Jersey Devil." One of his worst songs ever, although I appreciate it was meant to be a seasonal novelty. Spirited video, though.

ABOVE: Bruce tries to scare us on Halloween with his bad but spirited haunted screamer "A Night With the Jersey Devil"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maj. Hasan is a Terrorist

13 people are dead because we are too sensitive about hurting other peoples' feelings. Hasan spoke openly about his extreme religious beliefs with his co-workers to such an extent that many were quite concerned months before the Fort Hood massacre. Hasan attempted to contact al-Qaida. Hasan corresponded with fugitive extremist Anwar al-Awlaki. He even made a powerpoint to show his co-workers about the virtues of jihad. I know we want to protect the diversity we have in our armed services, but call it what it is. This guy presented multiple red flags about who he was, yet nobody had the balls to move on him until Officer Kimberley Munley put four slugs in his ass to stop the shooting.

The fact that those on the Left are so afraid to label him a terrorist (they prefer "an instance of work place violence") is absurd. I guess you could call it work place violence in the sense that it was violent. And happened at his place of employment. But the guy is a Muslim Terrorist. Plain and simple.

My favorite quote of the day from Chris Matthews: "It's not a crime to contact al-Qaida, is it?" What a douchebag. And Barack Obama: "we should not make any assumptions until the facts are in." The facts are in, dude. Sigh. We need Ronald Reagan.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Money Well Spent

Congratulations Yankees on winning the World Series.

Yankees payroll for 2009: $ 201,449,289
Phillies payroll for 2009: $ 113,004,048