Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Britney Spears' Crotch

Ok, so she dumps K-Fed, which is completely understandable. And she does it the same way (and day) that Dan of DanSpeak was dumped: via text message. At least it wasn't a MySpace comment, although I have a feeling that's soon to happen.

But then she starts hanging out with Paris Hilton, hitting all the popular night spots in town. (So I'm told, I don't really get out much to frequent the hot LA spots. Unless you consider my apartment a hot spot. And it's actually really cold at the moment. But the liquor's cheap and the party never ends).

Oh right, so Britney is hanging out with Paris Hilton, and I'm pissed I'm not the first person to label this picture "Dumb and Dumberer"

But damn, girl, what the hell is up with you flashing your crotch every night? It's almost at the point where I'm bored. Me! Bored! With free porn! From Britney Spears, who used to be hot until she accepted K-Fed's wang in her photogenic ready groin.

Do you think the paparazzi are getting bored with her junk yet? Like they hang around, outside the club, drawing straws to see who winds up being the unlucky guy to have to take the picture?

I hear her vagina's hired a publicist, and it started a fight with Lindsey Lohan.

A few questions I have about this whole thing:

1) Do you think Britney's contracted anything from her exposed crotch being on Paris Hilton's car seat?

b) Ummmm, didn't Britney have, like, 2 kids? Where'd they go? Did she give up the fad? Like kaballah?

4) Why am I spending time writing about this, and reading about her crotch, when I should be looking for a job?

f) What the hell happened to me?

13) Now that Hillary Duff is single, you think she'd go for me?

Funniest thing I've read today

Over at the head Movie Ubergeek Central (Ain't It Cool News), they have a review of The Nativity Story, which some of you may know is a movie about the birth of Christ.

It's one of the greatest reviews I've ever read.

Here's a sampling:

"This time around Jesus is being pursued by the ancient world version of a Bond villain, simply named Herod, who, knowing of Jesus’s amazingly bad assed ability to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ (I mean, really, he’s like Roman era John McClane) that he’s gonna try to kill him before he’s even born."

"Which is exactly why James Cameron is a genius. Everything is better with killer robots. Especially the story of Jesus."

"Um, yeah. As a life long Christian, I’ve got some news for you. Christians? We make pretty shitty movies on the whole, especially when we try to make movies for other Christians... The Christians that are good enough to slip through the cracks seem to be few and far between – kinda like white guys in the NBA."

You can read the rest of the review HERE, but I must say that ANY review that manages a comparison to Ewoks Battle For Endor is all kinds of alright in my book.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ralph Waite: Maniacal Genius

Let me take you on a journey through time. 13 years ago, to be precise. (Well, to be completely precise, it was thirteen and a half years). A small indepedent movie opened up in a few cinemas much to the delight of cineaste lovers across the globe.

It was called Cliffhanger.

And it was a piece of crap. But a FUN piece of crap.

Now, there's been something in the film that has bothered me since the beginning. My good friend Rico (aka RoGray) pointed out, in the theater, something ludicrous. The opening scene consists of high drama, as a girl is clutching Sylvester Stallone's hand over probably at least a 10,000 foot drop. Sly's out on the line, but back at the helicopter, trying to hold the cable tight, are Michael "The Rook" Rooker and Ralph Waite. The girl that's about to die (oh... spoiler) is dating The Rook, so The Rook is obviously concerned and distraught, doing what he can to try and save her life while Stallone is out on the line.

But not Ralph Waite. No no.

Good old Ralph is having the time of his life.

Rico was quick to point this out upon first viewing, as he saw this grinning madman on a 30 foot screen.

So while the girl is plummeting to her death, good ole' Ralph seems to be enjoying the macabre scene.

FUN NON-FACT: Ralph Waite's first name is pronounced "Rafe", like famed actor Ralph Fiennes, And Rolph, from the Muppets.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I am Robot, Legend?

I'm just sayin...

Box Office Report: 11-26-06

Dude here again, recovering from a festive holiday weekend, where too much food was consumed, but not so much food as booze. Lots of booze. I've been in an alcoholic haze for three straight days. I'm not gonna lie to you. I don't even know my own name anymore. I wake up in strange places I've never been before. Oh, right.

This week, we have a bunch of new movies opening up, but none managed to knock the top two from last week off their perch. There's a joke in there about the Happy Feet penguin and the word "Perch" , but I'm not going to make it. I leave that pun nonsense to Joel Siegel. Anyway, with the big holiday weekend, the numbers are quite large, as they are the 5-day total for the weekend. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday).

1. Happy Feet (WB) - $51.555, 3804 screens, week 2, $100.1 total

2. Casino Royale (Sony/MGM) - $45.05, 3443 screens, week 2, $94.2 total

3. Deja Vu (BV) - $29.0, 3108 screens, week 1, $29.0 total

4. Deck The Halls (Fox) - $16.88, 3205 screens, week 1, $16.88 total

5. Borat (Fox) - $15.4, 2552 screens, week 4, $109.28 total

6. Santa Clause 3 (Disney) - $13.8, 3043 screens, week 4, $67.199 total

7. Stranger Than Fiction (Sony)- $8.4, 2258 screens, week 3, $32.76 total

8. Flushed Away (Par/DW) - $7.67, 2621 screens, week 4, $57.366 total

9. Bobby (MGM/W)- $6.077, 1667 screens, week 2, $6.15 total

10. The Fountain (WB) - $5.4, 1472 screens, week 1, $5.4 total

Ok, those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it really means that people preferred the penguins and James Bond again, over Deja Vu. (Twenty bucks says other box office reports refer to the "deja vu" of last weekend's top movies doing better than Deja Vu).

If you're contributed to the $16.88 million that Deck The Halls made this weekend, please smack yourself in the face. Twice. Especially given that The Fountain made so little. There's no balance in the world anymore. Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny made even less, in 11th place with $5.1 million for the five days. This is almost as bothersome as that whole Big Momma's House 2 fiasco at the beginning of the year.

No, nothing's that bad.

Below the radar, something called The History Boys opened up on 7 screens and made $101,000.

And in the "just because it's there and because I can" series: Jackass Number 2 took in $68,000 on 152 screens, bringing it's grand total to $72,756,000 in 10 weeks

There you have my not so wonderful break down. Next week we got other movies coming out. But I won't be as hungover, and I'll try to make it more informative. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll just go on a Nicolas Cage-esque bender, Leaving Las Vegas style. Yeah. That sounds like a fun week.

Until next weekend....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Marlon Brando: The brilliance continues from beyond...

Many of you know his from his fine works in such films as The Godfather, Streetcar Named Desire, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Score, ummm... GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords.

I had always heard stories as to the man's poetic genius, often relayed in interviews with Sean Penn and Johnny Depp. But not until now was I able to witness it first hand. Some brilliance entitled for the eyes of one Charlie Sheen, or Ma-Sheen, as he's affectionately referred to by John Malkovich, and John Malkovich alone.

"I'm feeling like a very large turd on a very thin stick. I'm holed up in bed and taking everything from sled dog urine to powdered East Indian vulva-maybe won't work tomorrow if I feel the same. I really feel bad for not showing up at your birthday bash but I really feel shitty and best stay in bed. I don't have much of a selection. I'm sure it will be a kick in the ass and I hate to miss it-Happiest of birthdays to you, Charlie. Love Marlon"

I don't think I'll ever be able to inform others that I am ill in the way thaat Brando has captured the essence of what it truly is to be sick. And now I know what I need to take next time I'm feeling under the weather. Good thing I have my CVS Extra Care card.

And what the hell were up with the Rock Lords anyway? they're robots, but they can take on the form of rocks to confuse others? I think I'm gonna notice if a rock is suddenly where a robot was.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for? Besides the much needed check that arrived yesterday?

I'm thankful for Vitamin Water. Cool, refreshing, and in a bevy or flavors, Vitamin Water quenches my thirst when times are hot. Thank you Vitamin Water!

I'm also thankful I'm not taggin' Lindsay Lohan. That girl's just not right.

Happy turkey day everybody!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Halloween costume! aka I rule as I figure out how to use the photo function

I'm hoping this works.

I'm also curious what would happen if I took this picture and post it on Craigslist in the "erotic services" category, to see if anyone out there has a Pac Man fetish. I wonder how much I could make for that.

UPDATE: Ok, so it does work. Now my rampage of pictures will not be stopped.

Here's a picture of me interrupting a bunch of girls getting their picture taken at my class reunion.

And because it's awesome, here's a picture of Lo Pan!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bitching and moaning.

Alright, I thought the most disturbing commercial I had seen on television lately was the Pepto Bismol commercial that featured the giant monsters attacking a city who all suddenly have naseau, heartburn, upset stomach and diahrrea. Mainly because the of the last one, and the consequences of a 50 foot monster towering over me with bowel problems. Creepy.

But now, I just saw a new commercial that distrubs me. Granted in a different way. I think it's for a cell phone company, but they parody A Christmas Story, down to the last detail. But instead of a Red Ryder BB Gun, it's for a cell phone. Maybe I'm getting cranky in my years, but I feel my outrage towards this commercial lies somewhere between "is nothing sacred?" and "raping my childhood!"

C'mon guys. Can't we leave some things alone?

Alright I'm done.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

DanSpeak 11-18-06

From across the room, when I picked up the phone, thinking it was Jim but proven wrong when it turned out to be someone else: "PENIS!!!!!"

Taking a cue from M&Ms, I present TWEENER-MINIS!!

Ok, I've been sitting on these reviews for awhile, solely because everytime I write them I wind up losing them before it's finished. So I present these extremely brief mini-tweeners of movies I saw in the past couple of months.

Little Children

Fantastic. Kind of off beat, and very reminiscent of American Beauty, right down to the Thomas Newman marimba-infused score. Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson are fantastic as two married suburbanites (not to each other) who are bored, dazed and confused by the materialistic and bizarre world around them. They begin an affair, and wind up becoming little children, even more so than their infant children. Complicating matters is Jackie Earle Haley, as a man who returns to the neighborhood after being in jail for exposing himself to little girls. How all their worlds collide is done quite well, and is very emotional. If there's any justice in the awards season, Haley should earn Best suporting actor. He's haunting, creepy AND mildly sympathetic all at the same time. Todd Field made a great film that I can't stop raving about, even if New Line isn't supporting the film enough.

The movie is also quite funny, in a very dry, droll manner. There's a great omniscient narrator that never gets old. I loved it. Don't let the pedophilia undertones freak you out. Little Children is a great film, full of great performances all across the board. It's also beautifully shot, depicting the suburban menace of the greatest state in the country, New Jersey. (Even if some scenes are shot in Massachusetts).

The Departed

Saw this with my dad. It's the kind of movie you see with your dad. It's got a top notch cast and Scorsese behind the camera. It's tough to go wrong. Thankfully it's not. By now, I'm sure you know it's about Leonardo DiCaprio playing a cop deep undercover in Jack Nicholson's Boston mafia, while Matt Damon plays Nicholson's rat in the department. Both men try to find each other before hte other one does, and this creates most of the suspense in the film.

All the actors are great. I actually liked Leo in this a lot, but Damon was more compelling. Nicholson is a little over the top, but what are you gonna do? The most surprising (although it shouldn't because he's consistently good even when the movies he's in sometimes let him down) is Mark Wahlberg. Profane and hilarious, Wahlberg was my favorite overall, despite receiving considerably less screen time than the others.

The movie is brutal and violent as hell, and it's nice to see Scorsese back to old form. I could have done without the over-reliance of cell phones (ironic given that half the audience was always checking there cell phones throughout the movie), and that last shot in the film was painfully dumb. But those are very minor squabbles in what turns out to be a badass flick. I can't compare Departed to Infernal Affairs (the Hong Kong film it's a remake of), and I refuse to claim this as Scorsese's best since Goodfellas, because I like Casino, Kundun, and Bringing out the Dead. But it's definitely a top notch affair that I expect to win many awards, but it's quite deserving of any.

The Prestige

Batman (Christian Bale) takes on Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in this tale of dueling magicians at the turn of the 20th century. Their fued spans years, and goes from petty to tragic. There are also a few twists and turns abound (as should be expected from a movie about magic) but the ending is as painfully obvious (or blatantly ripped off) as the end of the OTHER magician movie, The Illusionist. Make no mistake, while Illusionist is pretty good, The Prestige is much much better.

Credit must be given to director Christopher Nolan, who brought us Memento and batman Begins. Like those films, Nolan has fun manipulating time and chronology, but he never makes it feel like a gimmick. I feel he does it to enhance the story, and also keep the viewers in as much confusion as possible until the time when things need to be revealed. Kind of like a magic trick. Oh, I get it now!

There is some fine acting from almost the entire cast, with Jackman and Bale holding their own against each other. Michael Caine is good as Jackman's confidant, and David Bowie shows up as Nicola Tesla, who proves vital to the plot and also provides a nice dueling scientist rivalry with Thomas Edison that helps enhance themes and such. The weak link goes to Scarlett Johanson. She's bad. Really bad. She has a horrible delivery and looks confused the whole time, almost to the point where she looks as if she's questioning the fact that she's in this movie. Not terrible enough to take you out of the movie, as she isn't in it all that much, but when everything around you is top notch her presence is distracting.

Oh, and the ending of this movie is twisted in ways I couldn't imagine, and I couldn't stop talking about it for days.

Running With Scissors

Augusten Burroughs' memoir of growing up in a crazy "family" gets the big screen treatment courtesy of Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy. That was reason enough for me to see it. And while the film itself is kind of a mess, it's bolstered by fantastic performances all around, and quite possibly one of the most moving scenes I've seen in a film in a while. It's the last scene in the film, so I can't spoil it by giving away what happens, but I can tell you that it's between Joseph Cross (as young Augusten) and Jill Clayburgh and is the only true honest connection made in the entire film. It's heartbreaking and beautiful.

I'm told the book is far more outrageous, almost to the point where you can't believe if what you're being told is real. I can't make comparisons, so I'll just go on what the movie tells me. Augusten, at the age of 14 or 15 (the movie's a little vague on some of these details) is abandoned by his mother (Annette Bening) into the care of her psychiatrist (Brian Cox) and his eccentric family, including his wife (Clayburgh), daughters (Gwyneth Paltrow and Evan Rachel Wood) and adopted son Neil (Joseph Fiennes). They live in a house full of junk that's rather unsettling to view. It gave me the jibblies.

Regardless, dysfunctional doesn't even begin to describe the house, or Augusten's relationship with his birth family or his adopted family. Benning's character is a horrible, selfish woman deluded by her own dreams of wanting to be famous. His father (Alec Baldwin, who's popping up everywhere including The Departed) wants nothing to do with him. The family of eccentrics he lives with aren't exactly of the "just because they're weird doesn't mean they're actually what is needed" variety. Burroughs' life is utterly depressing. My roommate Dan (he of DanSpeak) said it best: If you're feeling bad about your life, see this movie and it will make you realize that your problems aren't nearly as bad.

It's not a good movie from a technical perspective. It's kind of disjointed, some editing doesn't make a lot of sense, I have a feeling that even more parts of Burrough's life were left out (you can only tell so much in one movie). Adn some of the non-sequiters that Brian Cox spits out are just plain odd. But the performances are what lift this movie into orbit. Joseph Cross is a find, and he holds it together as well as he can. Benning is who all the awards will be talking about, and she is deserving, but it's Clayburgh that SHOULD be who's talked about.

Running With Scissors is not the greatest movie, but damn did it move me.

Box Office Report: 11-19-06

Dude here again, giving you the mubers that you need. Desire. Dare I say... crave? Or not. Perhaps you don't care. It's entirely up to you.

This week, Bond returns. But not to the top. Allegedly. The numbers are mighty close between Bond and Happy Feet. You know, the animated penguin movie. Anyway, it's a close race between the two, but I shall report what I have right now. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday).

1. Happy Feet (WB) - $42.3, 3804 screens, week 1, $42.3 total

2. Casino Royale (Sony/MGM) - $40.6, 3434 screens, week 1, $40.6 total

3. Borat (Fox) - $14.35, 2611 screens, week 3, $90.5 total

4. Santa Clause 3 (Disney) - $8.2, 3359 screens, week 3, $51.6 total

5. Flushed Away (Par/DW) - $6.8, 3307 screens, week 3, $48.8 total

6. Stranger Than Fiction (Sony)- $6.6, 2270 screens, week 2, $22.9 total

7. Babel (ParV) - $2.9, 1251 screens, week 4, $12.0 total

8. Saw III (LG) - $2.8, 1942 screens, week 4, $74.85 total

9. The Departed (WB)- $2.6, 1611 screens, week 7, $113.86 total

10. After Dark's Horror Fest: 8 Films to Die For (Free) - $2.48, 488 screens, week 1, $2.48 total

Ok, those are the numbers, but what do they mean? If you're Bond, you might be a little ticked off. The long awaited rebooting of the franchise seems to be defeated by a bunch of penguins. There's a joke to be made here about Bond and the tux and a penguin, but I'm too hungover to think of it. Anyway, the two are duking it out, and I have no doubt that numbers will be adjusted in a heated battle until the end. Happy Feet, however, has a shorter running time in it's favor, so more shows can unspool at the multiplex, and the kids are probably packing the shows in.

Oh, and don't be surprised if, when the final numbers are released, if the last three digits of Casino Royale come out to 007. Seriously. They did that with The World Is Not Enough.

If you're that After Dark fest, that's pretty impressive. Only opening on 488 screens, the heavily marketed series of films that normally wouldn't get theatrical distribution pulled in a solid $2.5 million. Not bad at all. Of course, I have a feeling those films will be on video very soon anyway, but this was a nice little experiment that might even become an annual event. Even if it would make more sense to host it in October, but I'm just being a pain in the arse now.

If you're Let's Go To Prison, I'm sorry. Not even cracking the top ten, and receiving some horrible reviews, (Many of which contained the very unfunny "Let's Go Straight To Video") Let's Go To Prison took in $2.1 million. I know there wasn't much spent on it, and the marketing brilliance of the talking urinal pads was pretty damn ingenious, but it's still not pulling in anything. I still have a feeling that it's funny, but that's my knee jerk Will Arnett thing kicking in.

Holdovers dropped. A lot. Most by over 50% from last week's take. however, it should be noted that most all the movies retained their order from last week. Creepy. But not really.

Below the radar, there were a few high profile flicks opening in limited release. For Your Consideration, the latest from Christopher Guest and his funny friends, opened on 23 screens and pulled in $394,000. Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation opened up on 321 screens to take in $390,000. And Emilio Estevez's Bobby took in $67,000 on 2 screens. It also garnered the highest per screen average of the week. ( $33,500 per screen.)

And in the "just because it's there and because I can" series: Employee Of The Month took in $95,000 on 149 screens, bringing it's grand total to $28,359,000 in 7 weeks

There you have my wonderful break down. Next week we have a Jerry Bruckheimer movie with Denzel Washington, the release of The Fountain, and the greatest movie of all time (as the ads keep informing me) Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny. It's also the long holiday weekend, which means there's a lot of money to be made.

Until next weekend.... ______ (Insert witty ending here)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Casino Royale is a pretty damn solid flick.

I'm not a huge James Bond fan. Not to say that I don't enjoy the adventures of the beloved superspy, but just that I'm not as big a fan as I am of, say, the Star Wars movies. Especially the last few years of Bond movies. While I think that Pierce Brosnan made a suave Bond, his scripts let him down. The movies became clones of action movies, trying to top one another in the sheer ridiculous quotient. (Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist named Dr. Christmas Jones, solely for the filthy double entendre at the end that you could see "arriving" from a mile away). Much like the Batman series once Schumacher took over, the movies seemed to exist for the toys, even if the Bond toys were solely on screen.

And now we have Casino Royale, which actually continues the Batman comparison with the "rebooting" of the franchise from the beginning. Low tech, bringing the series back to it's roots, showing a beloved hero from the beginning, etc. The comparisons are endless, and the greatest comparison is that they, like Nolan and his Batman Begins team, made an unbelievably kick ass movie that washes away the taste of some of the lesser films that came previously.

Daniel Craig, the uber suave lad from Layer Cake and Munich, takes over the reigns as Bond. James Bond. And he does a great job. Gone are the horrible puns and double entendres. Now, we have a no nonsense, take cahrge kind of Bond. But he's also a little more vulnerable, as he is still a bit wet behind the ears. Hell, he only achieves his double "0" status (as in 007) at the beginning of the movie. Our Bond also has a bit of an ego problem. this wouldn't be so bad if the script didn't keep reminding us of this every twenty minutes or so.

(I attribute this to the collaboration on the script by Paul Haggis, who also brought us the "racism is bad" theme in the Oscar winning Crash. It was kind of hard to miss that point. Haggis writing Crash is also a fun fact to consider in the beginning of the film, when Bond is at the Ugandan embassy, shooting at black men, while he is the only white guy there. Not an intentional theme, but something fun to think of nonetheless).

So, we have a new Bond, fresh from his promotion to 007 status, in Uganda, where he pursues a bomb maker. The bomb maker, it turns out, is a student of parkour, the ridiculously awesome stunt movements featured prominently in District B13. However, the chase scene that ensues between Bond and the bombmaker is ten times better than all the scenes in B13 combined. Seriously.

In fact, all the action scenes in Casino Royale feel fresh and re-invigorated. If there's any CGI enhancement, it's done seamlessly. But they feel like a return to old fashioned stunt work. There are no car chases with gadgets and smoke screens. bond gets royally abused, beaten down, and almost castrated. (That was a fun scene). He's not invincible, and Casino Royale reminds you of this.

The action scenes are only half the pleasure, though. The story follows Bond as he tracks down Le Chiffre, who has a weird eye and likes to compute statistics. He's also a banker for terrorists. Le Chiffre has a plan, involving war lord money and the stock exchange. When Bond foils this (I won't spoil the hows and whys) Le Chiffre puts all his money on a poker game. Yes, a poker game. And Bond's new mission is to beat Le Chiffre in this poker game. Which takes place at... wait for it... Casino Royale! (Title!)

I realize I write about how there's a new dramatic force behind this film, and it's main set piece revolves around a poker game. (Changed from the original Ian Fleming novel's baccarat, I'm guessing due to popularity). But it lends itself to some suspensful scenes, but more importantly, it lays down the groundwork for some important moments in the Bond legacy, namely his discovery of good martinis and the tux. That scene with Bond first putting the tux on is done quite nicely.

There are other staples of the Bond series, such as the elaborate credit sequence (with a song courtesy of ex-Soundgarden/current Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell), the classic Aston Martin and beautiful Bond women. (Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd, and holds her own against Craig. And she's quite easy on the eyes to boot). But the movie isn't interested in winking and nodding to the audience about these things. It's about establishing Daniel Craig as James Bond in a post 9-11 (and more importantly post-Bourne) society. For this alone, the movie is a complete success. I credit director Martin Campbell, director of the first Brosnan Bond "Goldeneye", as well as the criminally underrated and terminally badass "No Escape"

Craig plays Bond very well. I'm not going to make ludicrous comparisons to previous Bond actors, because opinions vary on other Bond portrayals. Is he as good as Connery was in the role? Hells yes. Craig is suave, sophisticated, but just unhinged enough to make you believe him as a real man, not just the super agent we've come to associate Bond with. You even get to see Bond fall in love, a rarity for the series. And you also get to see him kick some ass. And take some names. Craig was the first step in many steps that assured Casino Royale would turn out to be a really good movie. For once, I'm truly excited when I see the words "James Bond Will Return".

PS- I didn't give him any credit, but Jeffrey Wright plays series staple Felix Leiter. I didn't single him out because the very fact that he's in a movie means he's going to be awesome. Casino Royale proves this point.

Friday, November 17, 2006

300: Kicking my ass hardcore

I try not to go to test screenings anymore, unless it's something I truly can not wait to see. But this one came my way, and there was no way I was refusing an opportunity to see 300 months before it's release. I made myself a promise, though. I would respect the rules of the screening company and not report anything if the movie didn't at least meet my expectations, which are unreasonably high. This is in the best interest of the film, since it's still a work in progress, and if certain things didn't work, I knew that it could all be changed within a few months time anyway.

Since I'm reporting, though, you would be correct in asssuming it meets my expectations. 300 actually exceeds them. If you've seen the trailer, you know that the movie looks full of obscenely ridiculous action sequences that would kick unholy amounts of arse. The movie is a two hour, R-rated version of that trailer. It inspires many an exagerrated obscene comment, but it's completely deserving in doing so.

300 is adapted from the graphic novel by Frank Miller. It tells the story of the 300 Spartan warriors led by their bad ass King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), as they stand up against the tens of thousands of Persians awaiting to conquer and absorb Sparta into the empire. The Persians are lead by Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who figures himself a god among men. And the movie is about their battle. Sure, there's a fair amount of political intrigue amongst the Queen (Lena Headey, who is quite yummy) and a traitor among the Sparta elite (Dominic West), but really the movie is about the battle, which is a technically accomplished series of fight scenes like I have yet to see before.

Seriously. You'll want to compare them to scenes from Lord of the Rings or Gladiator, but you'd be wrong. Oh my, you will be wrong. One example would be the long, unbroken shot of Leonidas fighting in the first battle, the one that doesn't cut and keeps speeding up and slowing down, was quite invigorating, and a stand out among many great epic battle sequences. Jaw dropping, and I might even be so inclined to say awe inspiring, battle sequences.

The visuals themselves, even when not involving bloodshed or carnage, are a sight to behold. Much like the previous Miller adaptation Sin City, 300 was made with generous help from all digital environments. I don't know how faithful the film is to the graphic novel, but I can say that it looks damn fine, like the novel had come to life. Although what I viewed tonight was a workprint, most of the effects and digital rendering had been completed, and it never looked obnoxiously fake at all. It's a beautiful looking movie.

The actors do well for their roles, with Gerard Butler as a very convincing badass leader, even though he doesn't need to keep shouting everything as if it were a grand statement. But you know what? It doesn't matter because I'd follow him into battle any day. Mainly because I know that he could pretty much single-handedly take care of everyone for me, but he'd know I have his back.

Zach Snyder, he of Dawn of the Dead ('04) fame, directs 300 with a sure hand, telling a rock solid tale of honor and valor and mostly about kicking ass. Looking back upon the film, I'm starting to pick up on some themes that are a little freaky if you stop to think about them. (Spartans discard imperfect babies, so as to keep their army full of the strongest. This leads one to realize that the Spartans are kind of creating their own master race. And when you think of creating a master race, Nazis also come to mind. And yet, we the viewer are supposed to identify and support these Nazis. These superior soldiers who, by the way, all kind of look like He-Man action figures, and made me feel inadequate about myself.)

There is a lot one can take away from this film.

But purely on a knee-jerk visceral level, it's going to be very hard to top this movie. It's an adrenaline shot to your standard epic film. It packs a lot of testosterone into a two hour gap, but when compared to the bloated epics of late (Troy, Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven), it's quite refreshing. I don't know if I can keep lavishing praise on this film. I know this much, I can't wait to see it again. It's nice to see a movie that's not afraid to do new things while at the same time telling a solid story. A story of fighting. A lot of fighting. A hell of a lot of fighting, but done so well, and in such a damn good looking movie. It's a movie that makes you excited about movies again. Hell, it reduced me to obscene fan-boy gushing like I lost my virginity or solved the world's economic crises, full of hyperbole and nonsensical ramblings. That's what this movie does!!!

300 is one hell of a film.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hi-five! I see Borat!

I saw Borat. It was very funny. I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit. Sasha Baron Cohen, as Borat, has indeed taken the mantle from Peter Sellers and Andy Kaufman, and stepped it up into the modern day. It's also brilliant in how it exposes ignorance and idiocy across the nation. (There's a very telling scene with Borat at a rodeo, where he gets the man he's talking with to expose his deepest prejudices, most likely within a three minute conversation.)

But you know what? It's not the end all be all of comedies. It is, in essence, a smarter Jackass. It's comprised of tiny sketches that add up to a whole, but with each vignette topping the previous in terms of what limits can be pushed (and in making me lose bladder control through laughter), I kind of forget what comes before it.

It's also interesting to watch, knowing that those frat boy idiots in the RV are trying to sue the producers, claiming that they had no idea they would be in a movie that would air in the states. These jackasses are, ironically, most likely the same stock as the guys who are going around now quoting this movie relentlessly. Ridonkulous, this circle of life.

Anyway, it's good. It's really funny. But it's not the last comedy you'll ever want to see. (Although after the wrestling scene, you might not want to look at anything ever again.)

PS- I sure love it when you do your Borat impersonations for me. Please make sure you always do one when speaking with me. Because it's SO funny!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

6 years in the making... it's The Fountain

The Fountain is quite difficult to write about. It seems to be about an eternal quest for the fountain of youth, told in three different era (Conquistador era 1500s, modern day, and 500 years in the future). But it's about a whole lot more. So much more, in fact, that I fear I might not have gotten it all. In addition, there can be multiple interpretations of the events, which I can't really explain without ruining the movie for those who haven't seen it. What I can say is that it's a beuatifully filmed and wonderfully acted piece, almost a fairy tale if you can believe it. It also stays with you for days afterwards.

The leads in all the stories are played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. In the conquistador era, Jackman plays Tomas, who is charged by Queen Isabella of Spain to find the tree of life, long thought to be a myth from biblical times. (Adam and EVe were presented with the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, and when they screwed up with thte tree of knowledge, the tree of life was hidden and lost.) Apparently it was in Central America, where Tomas has pledged to find it to help deliver Spain from bondage.

In 2006, Tommy Creo (Jackman) is a research scientist desperately trying to find a cure for his wife Izzy (Weisz), who has an inoperable brain tumor. Tommy is driven, almost obsessed, with finding something can save his beloved Izzy. Their love is strong, even if Tommy can not accept the inevitability of death, while Izzy is fast approaching it.

And 500 years in the future, Tom (Jackman) travels the stars in an organic bubble that contains the dying tree of life. He is on a quiet journey through the heavens, but his destination is not quite known.

Each story is tied to the same themes of obsession and fear and/or acceptance of dying as a facet of life. It's told in a loose manner, jumping back and forth through time, but painting a larger picture, and that picture is the story of one man's love for a woman. It truly is a fairy tale, with one man fighting against all odds to be with the woman he loves.

And it's told wonderfully. Darren Aronofsky seems to have calmed down since his last two films (Pi and Requiem For a Dream), and here tells a tale of love. It presents some big ideas, but never in an unaccessable manner. The film can be taken straight on, and not hurt one's mind. Every shot in the film (courtesy of regular Aronofsky cinematographer Matthew Libatique) looks grand, yet never loses the focus of it's two leads. It's epic in scope and yet quite intimate.

None of this would work if Jackman didn't do a damn fine job. He does a damn fine job, in all three roles. He goes to three separate places, on three separate journies, and making you believe it. You buy his obsessive nature, and you never doubt his love for Weisz, no matter what time period. Weisz is also quite good, but it's Jackman that holds the film in the balance.

One last special nod must be paid to the music. Aronofsky has always worked with Clint Mansell, and each time, the music gets better and better. Once again using the Kronos quartet (this time joining forces with Mogwai as well), Mansell turns in his best work. Lots of haunting melodies that will stay with you. I loved it.

It's not a perfect movie, and it's not nearly as mind bending as I thought it would turn out to be. But it's better than most sci-fi movies out there, and it tries for something different. It touched me, I'm not afraid to say it. And yet, it also has that visual element that makes it feel almost like you're viewing living art. It stays with you for days afterwards, and the more you think about it, the different ways you can interpret the film come more apparent. That makes me like the film even more.

FUN FACT: There is no CGI in this film. All special FX are done with old fashioned tricks. It works.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Box Office Report: 11-12-06

(Returning once again to my duties as the Moviesonline Box Office guy, here is my report. Enjoy)

Dude here again. Once again returning to report all the lovely numbers that movies made to you, the people. I do it out of love, even if I cry at how much money these movies make, while I sit in my apartment, broke as hell, charging friends for massages just to buy some gum. (SEND DUDE MONEY!!)

This week, Borat retains the top spot, and actually IMPROVES upon last week's opening, a feat rarely accomplished, especially at the number one spot, and especially on a non holiday weekend. And with four newcomers none of which nip at the heels, like they're supposed to. An odd weekend indeed. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday).

1. Borat (Fox) - $29.0, 2566 screens, week 2, $67.8 total

2. Santa Clause 3 (Disney) - $16.89, 3458 screens, week 2, $41.05 total

3. Flushed Away (Par/DW) - $16.7, 3707 screens, week 2, $39.9 total

4. Stranger Than Fiction (Sony)- $14.1, 2264 screens, week 1, $14.1 total

5. Saw III (LG) - $6.6, 3013 screens, week 3, $69.879 total

6. Babel (ParV) - $5.65, 1251 screens, week 3, $7.488 total

7. The Departed (WB)- $5.2, 2210 screens, week 6, $109.778 total

8. The Return (Rogue) - $4.776, 1986 screens, week 1, $4.776 total

9. The Prestige (BV/WB) - $4.6, 2236 screens, week 4, $46.0 total

10. A Good Year (Fox) - $3.775, 2066 screens, week 1, $3.775 total

Ok, those are the numbers, but what do they mean? If you're Borat, you're going to be saying "Hi-five" quite a bit. In it's second week, after expanding to 1700 more screens, Borat improved 9.6% over last weekend's opening. This is quite good, as it seems Borat has tapped into something the people want to see. Not bad at all.

If you're Santa Clause and Flushed Away, you're the vicious pawns of a power struggle as old as the conception of DreamWorks itself. These two studios are always having a friendly rivalry, and if you notice, at the moment, both films are quite close (high $16 millions). I would expect these numbers to change when the actuals are released, with both boosting what they actually make. It's childish and stupid, but that's Hollywood. What's more remarkable about these films is that they both had VERY small percentage drops from last week (between 11 and 13%) which is rare, but not surprising given that they are family films and holidays are approaching.

If you're Stranger Than Fiction, be proud. Taking in $14 million dollars for a more off kilter, non mainstream film is pretty good. Granted, it had fierce competition, and a lot of people weren't expecting a non "wacky" Will Ferrell, but it could turn out to be a modest hit, especially with good word of mouth spreading.

If you're The Return, go back. The horror audience is tricky. What will sometimes hit will not do so again. People claiming the film looked a lot like The Grudge, even to the point of sharing it's star, decided to avoid it. And coming so close after the disappointing Grudge 2, people wanted something else to be scared. Like Saw.

If you're A Good Year, prepare yourself for too many awful puns tomorrow morning about how it wasn't a good weekend, or something equivalent and equally painful. (It pained me to write that example, actually, and I am flogging myself as I type). The Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott team up, the first since Gladiator, failed to inspire anybody wanting to see a movie where Crowe is a rich snob who discovers what's really important in life: Wine. I don't actually know if that's the plot, but that's what I gathered from the trailer.

And if you're the fourth wide release of the weekend, Harsh Times, you didn't even break the top ten. Boasting (from what I've heard) an impressive starring role from Christian Bale, the film pulled in a dismal $1.8 million dollars. I'm not going to dance on this, but I'm sure it's a film that will find an audience. Unless it's really bad.

Holdovers dropped. The Departed is now officially Martin Scorsese's biggest box office hit. The Prestige continues to make some cash. Saw 3 is dropping fast. Oh, and Babel opened wider and attracted a lot more people. Expect this one to constantly hover around through awards season.

Below the radar, not much to report. Fur, a movie starring Nicole Kidman, pulled in $30,000 on 4 screens. A movie with Ed Harris called Copying Beethoven made $72,000 on 26 screens. And none of their averages can compare to Borat's.

And in the "just because it's there and because I can" series: Little Miss Sunshine took in $195,000 on 161 screens, bringing it's grand total to $58,574,000 in 16 weeks

There you have my wonderful break down. Next week we have the return of Bond. James Bond. And that will most likely knock Borat from the top of the perch. We also have a movie about Dancing penguins, because people can't get enough of talking dancing animals, but this one has the distinction of being from George Miller, who brought us both Babe AND The Road Warrior. And we also have Let's Go To Prison, starring my favorite actor Will Arnett from TV's Arrested Development. I have a feeling this movie will be brilliant, and no one will see it. Much like Arrested Development.

Until next weekend.... ______ (Insert witty ending here)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction, Better Than I Thought

Stranger Than Fiction takes a premise that feels like it was lifted from a post-it note in Charlie Kaufman's wastebasket. "A guy suddenly hears omniscient narration, hears of his imminent demise, and tries to figure out who's narrating and how he can save his life". And the resulting film could easily have been Charlie Kaufman-lite; studio infused weirdness for the sake of being weird. Cast Will Ferrell in it, and the audiences will have a grand old time.

Luckily the film is much better than on paper.

Fiction follows the life of Harold Crick (Ferrell), a lowly IRS agent consumed by numbers, spatial relations, and patterns. We're introduced to Crick on a very typical day, beginning with the exact number of brush strokes on his teeth in the morning, to the exact time he falls asleep every night. Alone. Harold is a lonely man, with few friends, as most people who work for the IRS might be given the amount of disdain the general population holds for our friends at the Internal Revenue Service. But all this changes the next morning when Harold hears the narration the audience has been hearing since the beginning of the film.

In a normal movie, this would lead to hijinks. Possibly shennanigans. But not so much here. Sure, there's the initial freak out scenes, especially when Harold realizes that nobody else can hear this voice. These are the scenes used in the trailers, which unfortunately give a little too much away and are misleading. And while yes, they are funny, that's not what the movie's about. It's about a lot of things, too many to truly get into without spoiling the movie for others, but above all it's about that living a life worth living. (There's also the notion of self sacrifice, the impact of fiction, consequences, etc,. But this is the one I took with me).

Harold tries to figure out, with the aid of a literature professor (wonderfully played by Dustin Hoffman) if his life, the life being narrated to him, is a comedy or a tragedy. Harold judges this by his interactions with Ana Pascal (my occasional crush Maggie Gyllenhaal, making a strong case for me once again). Ana is a baker, running a bohemian (or was it anarchist?) baked goods shop, that is being audited by Harold. Naturally she hates him at first. Does he win her over? All I'm going to say is how he tries is equal parts hilarity and sweetness, without going over the top. (Also, him bringing her "flowers" is ingenious.

Soon enough, Harold discovers (as we the audience have) that his life is being written by Karen Eifel (Emma Thompson) a once great and prolific writer who now suffers from writer's block and smokes too many cigarettes, which she extinguishes with much disgust. With the help of an unwanted assistant provided by her publishers (Queen Latifah, who's always wonderful and whom I want to hug someday, but that's my own thing), Eifel needs to figure out how to kill off her protagonist. Karen, it should be noted, is unaware as to Harold's actual existence.

All the actors are top notch, never over playing their roles nor making them too ridiculous. Ferrell is the standout, though. Harold Crick is not a funny man, and he is not played as such. Will Ferrell plays the role for the laughs as much as he plays the pathos, the sad sack existence of his character. His journey is quite outstanding. There will be many comparisons to Jim Carrey and his work in The Truman Show, but Will Ferrell seems more natural in this role. The more apt comparison would be with Steve Martin in some of his more serious roles. Everyone in the cast is spot on, but this is Ferrell's movie, and without him working the movie falls apart. Thankfully, he holds it together and then some.

Directed by Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, and the SUPREMELY underrated Stay), the film has a unique visual style that only sometimes draws attention to itself, yet never overshadows it. The visual interpretation of how Harold views the world is quite clever. And he also coaxes great performances from all. (I might have mentioned that a few times). The script, written by Zach Helm, mines the humor out of character, not situation. The premise is a bit out there, but it doesn't dwell on how "clever" it is. Instead it takes it as a leaping point, which is what those great Charlie Kaufman scripts also do. These films are grounded in reality, which makes their premises easier to swallow. The photography is quite good, capturing a never identified Chicago in a light I've never seen. Editing is good as is the music (provided in part by Britt Daniel of Spoon).

Stranger Than Fiction is not a raucous comedy along the lines of other Will Ferrell movies, but it is quite funny. It's also very sweet and oddly touching. It inspired a lot of good feelings in me that few movies do anymore. It's a great time all around.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Road Trip Stories: The musical selections

It's been sitting here, along with about 4 other movie reviews, so I figure I'll break up the monotony of my reviews (The Little Children review was awesome, but the internet crashed and lost it all) I decided to write up the musical selections that accompanied me on my journey.

Notes to consider- I had to listen to the CD in it's entirety. I COULD repeat songs, but I could not skip them. Those are the rules. Stupid, I realize, but that's why you love me.

Because of the 6 CD changer, I decided to group my selections by a vaguley common thread. Those are the headers atop. I have some comments about certain CDs (see deez nuts!) that will appear. Enjoy.

First Leg- The Classic Starters:

Radiohead - Kid A
Cypress Hill - Black Sunday
White Stripes - White Blood Cells
Underworld - Dark and Long (EP) (So happy I found this import, it's worth a lot of cash)
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
Ocean's 11 - Soundtrack

Morning Becomes Eclectic (Started the 2nd day with these)

Traffic - Soundtrack/Score
Funky Porcini - The Ultimately Empty Million Pounds
Nacho Mixx (Compilation mix from my friend Lizz)
Air - Talkie Walkie
Chill Out In The City (compilation of dance and house, purchased during my "Rave" days)
Boards of Canada - The Campfire Headphase

Vaguely (Mostly) Rockin

Dave Matthews Band - Under the Table and Dreaming (Don't judge me)
The Soundtrack of our Lives - Behind The Music
Genius - Liquid Swords (Badass, and not really rock, but who cares?)
Coldplay - XY (see DMB comment)
Beck - Odelay
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

Next Leg (no real reasoning)

Green Mile - score
New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Broadcast - Ha Ha Sound
Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise (Ok, it needs to be noted that I placed this in the player when I drove through Illinois. I'm lame like that, but when else would I be able to do something like this?)
Johnny Cash - Live at San Quentin
Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
Underworld - A Hundred Days Off

Just Plain Fun!

They Might Be Giants - Flood
Pulp Fiction - Soundtrack
Out of Sight - Soundtrack
David Holmes - Let's Get Killed
REM - Green
Thievery Corporation - The Outernational Sound

Rollin Into Town (Soundtrack Crazy)

Ethiopiques - vol 13
Wicker Park - Soundtrack
Massive Attack - Unleashed soundtrack
Little Miss Sunshine - Soundtrack
Underworld - Pearl's Girl
The Last Kiss - Soundtrack (BRRRRAAAAFFFF!!!!)

Reunion - Jersey Drivin

Scissor Sisters - Ta Da (I Don't Feel Like Dancin' became the unofficial theme of the reunion for me and Becca)
Jersey Mix (a collection of tunes I used to play at the jukebox of my local bar, The Winchester)
Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News
The Shins - Oh Inverted World/Chutes Too Narrow (I have them both on one CD)
White Stripes - Elephant
Gorillaz - Gorillaz

The Journey Back

Lost In Translation - Soundtrack
Your Head A Splode - Mix from Holmes
Dust Brothers - Fight Club Soundtrack
Chill #1 (Mix of ambient electronica I made)
Chill #2 (See Chill #1)
Lizz Mix #2 - Kind of self explanatory


Beck - The Information (Last track was screwing up, though)
The Sounds of Low Cool (Mix CD I made for the Low Cool premiere party)
Go Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike
Spacemonkeys - Spacemonkeys vs. Gorillaz
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Get Shorty - Soundtrack

Rockin Like It's 1995 (ish)

Nirvana - From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
Pearl Jam - Vitalogy
Live - Throwing Copper
Alice In Chains - Nothing Safe: Best of the Box
Foo Fighters - There is Nothing Left to Lose
Soundgarden - Superunknown (Quite possibly favorite album of all time)

There's a Reason Behind These

Wolf Parade - Apologies to Queen Mary
We Are Scientists - With Love and Squalor
New Maximum Donkey - Spirit of the Donks
Under The Influence of Giants - Under The Influence of Giants
Jack Johnson - Curious George (Time to get curious!)
Beth Orton - Comfort of Strangers

Sexy Chanteuse Siren Songs (whose last names all begin with M as a weird coincidence)

Alanis Morrisette - Jagged Little Pill
Nellie McKay - Come With Me (Discs 1 & 2)
Joni Mitchell - Blue
Sarah McLoughlin - Surface (see DMB and Coldplay comments)
Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm

HOMESTRETCH (Began in the wee hours of the morning to keep me awake on)

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin 3
Old 97s - Alive and Wired (2 cds)
Modest Mouse - Lonesome Crowded West
Underworld - Dark and Long (again)
Radiohead - Amnesiac

However, due to the fact that I was pretty crazy at the very end, I decided to repeat track 2 of Dark and Long, entitled Thing in a Book, for the remainder of the trip. The song is 20 minutes long, and it repeated 6 times by the time I finally made it home. I was definitely a little loopy by the end.

There you have it. Klosterman I am not, but I'm ok with that.

More reviews coming soon, including The Prestige, The Departed and Running With Scissors. And Stranger Than Fiction, if we make it in time today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I saw Saw... part 3. (minor spoilage)

I take back what I said about Cary Elwes in the first Saw movie. I took back what I said about Leigh Whannell (the other guy in the room with the Dread Pirate Roberts) and his acting after I met him and discovered that he was hiding his accent. But I still didn't think that Cary Elwes was any good in the first movie.

But oh no. Now there's Angus Macfayden. He's an actor I generally enjoy. He was great in Equilibrium, as well as Braveheart (although, I don't fellate that film like so many others do). But here, in Saw 3, as the latest victim in Jigsaw's twisted little mind games, he's horrible. Seriously. Never believed him for a second. And although I think he's supposed to be drunk and/or hungover, he looks as if he might actually be drunk and stumbled into the wrong movie.

Luckily for us, and bad for the movie, Macfayden really isn't in the film all that much. I say bad for the movie because his storyline is the more interesting of the film, and it's barely in there. Macfayden plays Jeff, a father who lost his son three years ago to a drunk driver. The drunk driver got off with 6 months in prison, and Jeff feels it shouuld have been longer, and he plots his drunken revenge while ignoring his wife and daughter. Seriously, he talks in the mirror holding the gun, while in his bathrobe, and rehearses what he'd say to the man. But he does nothing about it.

Anyway, he's trapped by Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and Amanda (Shawnee Smith, who looks great for having just given birth in real life.) in a maze of horrific "tests", meant to bring Jeff closer to either forgiving those involved or exacting his vengeance.

But there's another plot going on while this is happening. This involves the kidnapping of a doctor named Lynn (Bahar Soomekh). Lynn is an expert surgeon, and this is shown in a terrible scene. On the plus side, this scene manages to prove that even in a more "Dramatic" scene, no scene in a Saw movie is complete without excessive blood.

Right, so Lynn is kidnapped by Amanda, and forced to keep Jigsaw alive so that he may view Jeff's progress through the tests. Jigsaw, you may remember, has a brain tumor which is the main instigator behind his blood soaked "life lessons". He's on his deathbed in his creepy lair, tended to by Amanda and now by Lynn. Lynn, it should be noted, has a collar around her neck which contains multiple shotgun shells cocked and at the ready. Should Jigsaw's heart rate stop, the collar will activate. Which means blood and carnage, but it also means that Lynn has to do everything in her power to keep Jigsaw alive just long enough. This also involves a scene involving some impromptu surgery, which I am kind of proud to admit is the first scene in motion picture history to make me want to vomit.

Seriously, I almost did. I couldn't believe it. Not just knee jerk "ewww", but full on I could feel it rising in my stomach. It's a disgusting scene. Mostly due to sound design. I'll let you discover it for yourself if you want.

Oh, and interspersed throughout the film are flashbacks that take up far too much time. And not flashbacks like in the first film, which actually helped figure out the plot. These flashbacks feel like padding, which the film, at almost 2 hours, doesn't really need. Saw 2 was lean as hell and moved like a bullet. This one... well, more on this later. But there really is no need to see what exactly happened involving Jigsaw's setting up of the events in the first film. At least, there's no need to spend as much time as they did on it, even if it was nice to uncover how Jigsaw managed to stay on the ground for so long without giving away his game.

Ok, so that's what happens in the movie. Sounds like quite a bit doesn't it? On top of that, you have what feels like three separate openings to the film that kind of drag, and seem only intersted in disgusting you and/or making you cheer. I enjoyed these scenes, and the macabre sense that went into coming up with them, but, and I never thought I'd say this about a Saw movie, they feel kind of forced. As if to say "You thought the needle scene in Saw 2 was gross? Check this shyte out!"

On top of which, these scenes have little to do with the actual plot of the film. Sure, they have a bit of character development, but they don't quite work so well, if I understand the ending correctly. At least not in a way that makes a lot of sense.

And this is what kills me about Saw 3, especially after Saw 2. Saw 2 had a momentum, a great sense of pacing in addition to the brutality. And that brutality was clever. Here, it's just disgusting, as if the director is taunting Eli Roth to top him in Hostel 2. (which will probably happen). Saw 3 doesn't deliver like it should. Sure it's disgusting, and some of it is fun if you're as twisted as I am, but after awhile it becomes irritating. On top of which, there is the need for a "Twisty ending" that's all the rage these days, that again doesn't quite add up. (Although the final shocker I felt was pretty damn good).

I have no idea what's going to happen in Saw 4, but I can honestly say I'm not looking forward to it. Saw 3 is kind of a mess, with some hastily edited scenes and poor writing. Gone is the wit of the first two movies, staying behind is the poor acting and the grotesque death sequences, which feel more gross than clever. And this is a damn shame, because Jigsaw is one of the only movie-land killers I enjoyed seeing. He was a more demented John Doe, who seemed to actually have a good enough motive. Alas, Saw 3 feels like it was just made for the money and not the love. And that's what ultimately is it's downfall.

Oh well. There's always Hostel 2.