Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Music Watch

Ted Leo / Rx
The Brutalist Bricks

I will rock out with Teddy until he's deady.


Vampire Weekend
Contra

Can they do it again? All leaked tracks point in the right direction.



The Shins
*********(not sure it will come out next year)

James fired the other band members for a new sound. "And if it ain't broke then don't try to fix it" - Fresh Prince

Spoon
Transference

They always manage to change up their sound with each new record while staying true to form. They're like Radiohead's shy cousin. Love it.




I'm sure there are lots more scheduled to come out. There must be a bootleg at least of Pavement reunion shows next year, so be on the lookout for those. Let's meet up at the end of 2010 on the top of the Empire State Building and see how it all sussed out.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Baby On Board (...something Burt Ward)

Here is to the kids who've come into the world in the past year. (Mattie you get a pass leading the way last year. You're in charge and p.s. your sis was conceived this year.)

Matthew, Audrey, Lauren, Finn, Thomas, Nathanael, Merrit, Sammy.

Two more on the way (that we know of). You're the next group of friends. Some day you'll be snorting while laughing, puking on cars, doing century club, falling asleep with the oven on in the middle of reading a book for class, playing volleyball, helping people find jobs, sleeping til 2pm or finding true love.

Good luck to you all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tops of the Year

Not much more to say. You can check out the links to the original posts to see why they won.

Best Zom-Com: Zombieland
Best Nostalgia picture: G.I. Joe
Best Reboot of Nostalgia: Star Trek
Best Romance: (500) Days of Summer
Best Kids film: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Best Comedy: I Love You, Man
Best Drama: The Hurt Locker
Best Period Piece: Inglorious Basterds
Best Biopic: The Informant!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aught 10 addendums

Although I am sticking with my original postings, sometimes you just get some extra ideas. With that I add on my "No one is perfect" additional additions.


Music:
Come On Feel the Illinois (2005)
Well done, Sufjan. Haunting long drawn out melodies. Almost like symphony of sound, going in and out of beats, etc. Who else can craft a ballad about a mass murderer.


TV:
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005 - Present)
How in the world could I forget this show. Found during some repeat airings of season one in preparation of season 2. Best accidental find since I picked up that Incredible Moses Leroy album from the Virgin Records listening station in 2001. Abortion, under age drinking, cancer, gun fever. It's been described as Seinfeld without a conscience. I agree. It may have gone down in quality, but that's only because it started at such a high level.


Movies:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
The man who brought Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout to life gives us his directorial debut. Robert Downey Jr's cinematic roll of roles started with this recent movie. A pulp novel put on screen the plot twists are secondary to a bunch of outrageous characters doing weird things. Really a big treat for the eyes. Your eyes will thank you later.

Hot Rod (2007)
Of course, Hot Rod. The Lonely Island gang. A script written for Will Ferrell. A script written by Pam Brady (South Park and more, people). Danny McBride. Ian McShane. Will Arnett. Bill Heder. This movie is ridiculous from the opening moped music cue. I saw this with my roommate at a boozy screening and then forgot about it. Thank god for cable airing it 100x a day. Which I watched every single time. It's like Anchorman's mentally challenged brother. Seek.it.out.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Aught 10 is Just Around the Corner:
A List of Movies

Of course this was going to be the hardest list for me. So it has taken some time. Some fiddling, some expanding. Now for your ocular pleasure, the list of the best movies over the past decade. Man alive, it's weird to think we've got another decade in the record books. I bet when we look back at this new decade that starts next month, we'll be talking about our cerebral implant projections, not celluloid projected through light.

Wonderboys (2000)
Michael Chabon wrote the source material. Curtis Hanson put that material on the big screen. What happened was a surprising small film with great actors telling an offbeat wonderful story. When I was in college, I saw this poster. It was around the time that it was announced that Michael Douglas was in talks to be in a big screen adaptation of "My Three Sons' TV show. That's what I thought this movie was so I was never going to go see it. Then I finally saw a trailer. This movie is filled with an all star cast. Great turns by Toby McGuire, Robert Downey Jr and Michael Douglas. Of course. Then you also have Rip Torn (Don Geiss himself), Katie Holmes, Frances McDormand, and a quick cameo by Alan Tudyk. I'm finally going to read the book this year. The story of a liberal arts college and a professor trying to somehow finish his never ending follow up novel. The story is wild and weaving. Truly a great small little film.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Shot in my city. A unique plot. The lead role played by one of my favorite actors. It showed that like many comedians before him, he's got dramatic acting chops. It's romantic without being schmaltzy. And of course, the first time he gets to hear the narration of his life, he gets bad news that puts the whole movie in motion. Great turns by Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, Tony Hale and even Queen Latifah. None of the romance elements ring false. You get to go with this man on his journey and genuinely care about how he's going to come out the other side. Also, it's really funny. This is a feel good movie for someone like me. Beautifully shot and a great narration that for once affects the plot.

High Fidelity (2000)
The pinnacle of John Cusack films. The perfect storm of story (by Nick Hornby), location change (sweet home Chicago) and acting (Jack Black before America turned on him). It seems like my list is developing a couple of tells on how to make my list. Be filmed in Chicago (not true, sorry "Wanted" and "Eagle Eye"), come from a great book (this one is true) and have heart. High Fidelity is a great movie. It's great for music lovers. It's great for comedy lovers. It's great for romantics. I would consider this the high water mark for Cusack. Not to say he's doing bad things, but this is what his career was headed for from the beginning. Extremely re-watchable. Love lorn loser takes us on a tour of his past loves while moving forward with his most recent breakup. Plus there's a awesome Pavement concert print by his front door.

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
I saw this movie in theaters on the worst day in America's recent history. It was the best medicine for one of the most shocking days I have ever had. This movie was made by the guys who created Mtv's The State. They did something quite special. WHAS is a spoof of 80's camp movies while being able to be one as well. What David Wain did here is the same thing that Edgar Wright is doing with his spoofs (Shaun and Fuzz). A lot of the State cast are present. Just a typical day of counselors and campers. Absurdest comedy from start to finish. Watch out for Paul Rudd's air guitar at the end.

The Royal Tennenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson really found his groove with this film. Just the right amount of sweet and sour. He got the best use out of Ben Stiller at the time (only recently redeeming himself with Tropic Thunder). The story title is a double entendre about the movie family's patriarch, Royal Tennenbaum. This is his story. We follow him through his last days trying to reconnect to his family. All the characters are flawed and broken in one way or another. This is what Anderson does best, comedies without a lot of laughs. Truly funny movie that isn't about the jokes, but about the characters. Not to say there aren't jokes. But it's safe to say that Wes' third film is the one that showed he was really moving to the next level of film making.

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Edgar Wright shows us how to do spoof / tributes to genres. Going 2 for 2 (starting with Shaun of the Dead, of course) and cashing in his chips to get other great British actors to sign up. A cop in London who is so good that all his superiors promote him to the suburbs just to get rid of him. To quote his captain "You're making us all look bad." If you want to see how spoof should be done, look out for homages for everything from Lethal Weapon to Bad Boy 2. For actioneers who don't mind a little gore (and of course, love levity in their action).

Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003)
Had he kept volume one and two together, it might not have seemed as impressive. But Tarantino wisely front loaded his first volume (decimation of the crazy 88 anyone?) that would all but guaranteeing people would return to cinemas to see volume two. I've heard some people say that volume 2 had the heart. Well, then volume one is the fists. I saw this 3x in the theaters. I could not get enough. The revenge tale of "the Bride" as she goes after the people who tried to put her in the grave. This is all id for 2+ hours. Kill Bill is the kind of mindless violent action that when you think about it, isn't so mindless. Just like all Tarantino films this movie is top down just great. One of the few movies that I own the soundtrack.

The Departed (2006)
Scorsese remaking a Hong Kong spy thriller? That's what gets him his Oscar? You're damn right. Based on the movie Infernal Affairs. Two spies. One in the Police department. One in the organized crime syndicate. They are doing a deadly dance with each other that ends in a refreshing way that I would never have guessed in a million years. I also love that Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio played the roles that they did. Plus a support cast that really elevates the whole thing. I bet against this movie to win the Best Picture Oscar because I couldn't bring myself to believe a movie so good had a chance in hell. Never have I been more pleased to be proven wrong.

No Country For Old Men (2007)
Now here is the feel good movie of the year. A cowboy gets himself into a jackpot (his words). True cowboys. Lots of shooting. No music. So haunting. And you know what else...fantastic. Again with the impressively refreshing plot. You think we're following one dude, then of course we're following another. And end that is truly an end in every sense of the word. Hey if you found a satchel of money, would you try your best to keep it? What if you found yourself digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole. The Coen Brothers have made some great films. But I've never seen such a master of craft from them before, and that's saying something.

Dark Knight (2008)
This movie makes the Tim Burton/Joel Schumaker movies look like the Adam West movies. That's not an easy feat. This movie only needs about 15-20 minutes of trimming to become the perfect film. Shot in Chicago with IMAX cameras. You almost forget this is a movie about a guy dressing up as a bat. You could just as well see him as a regular detective and never know the difference. Batman goes up against his true arch nemesis, the Joker. Enough has been said about Heath the past couple years. But his performance is truly the anchor that holds this film in together. Is that what anchors do? I guess if you're the anchor leg in a race, then yes. And because of his untimely passing, the sharks in Hollywood can't get him shoehorned into the next sequel. I don't need another Batman movie for another 10 years because this one exists. Amazing.

Wall-E (2008)
While suffering through the usual trouble Pixar has with second acts, the first act is so good with almost no speaking, you could have put 2 Girls / 1 cup on the screen for the remaining time and I still would have put it on my tops list. A lonely robot has survived to be the last sentient being on earth. His task is to clean up the place. And he does it. Everyday. With a cockroach and movies to keep him sane. Until he gets a visitor. I almost wish Pixar had made this their first adult animated feature. Then they wouldn't have had to have all the adorable robots running amok with the humans. But still, just a wonderful sentimental warning for people. Like Idiocracy.
Judd Apatow's rise to golden boy of comedy in Hollywood started right here. With Steve Carell partnering with him on the screenwriting, they craft a movie that has some of the crudest jokes but still has a heart at the center. The perfect balance is struck even if it's almost like two different movies in the first half from the second half. But that's not to say it's a schizophrenic affair. A cohesive whole this movie is for sure. One of the criteria for making the top music of the decade is being able to listen to the album repeatedly. This movie is supremely re-watchable. This will be "Fletch" for kids growing up in the world right now. They will be happy to see it on TBS during a sick day on the couch.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Steven Spielberg is an interesting bloke (yeah I'm British for this entry). He has managed to go with a lot of different genres based on his interests at the time. In 2002 he felt like telling the true story of a kid who defrauded America for years by forging checks. He brings his muse along with him (T.Hanks) to create a typical old timey accent. But at it's center is a kid who's family is falling apart. Instead of watching it implode he runs away. Told over a great many years its basically his second chance to make a Peter Pan film. There are no real enemies in the movie, so it's more about the story itself. Many times overlooked, this is the movie that shows Spielberg can still craft an emotional gem.

I bet at the time when it said "An Apatow Production" during the opening credits, you didn't give it a second thought. Hind sight. This script was written and shelved for many years until Will Ferrell's star started to really rise. And from that one of the weirdest wildest funniest movies of the decade was born. Who hasn't said "60% of the time it works every time" when talking about, well, anything. This is the kind of movie that you get new little pieces every time you watch it. I had to have my roommate point out his favorite part (watch Paul Rudd when they get their ratings announced on set). And the best proof that this great movie is in the timing as well as the editing watch the second movie they made out of outtakes and excised plot point "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy" because it is TERRIBLE. But the finished movie that is Anchorman is great. No question. It's the pancake breakfast. We do it every month.

Bad Santa (2003)
The title role was originally going to be played by Bill Murray. Although I'm sure that would have been absolutely amazing, Billy Bob Thornton was born to play this role. A drunk safe cracker that makes his yearly salary by playing a mall Santa and then robbing the mall on Christmas eve, its basically the perfect plot. This movie is filled with despicable characters. They have no redeeming qualities. They beat up kids, drink, screw, swear. It's a twisted tale that has no comparison. God created this movie to counteract the families that watch "It's A Wonderful Life" every year. This is my holiday tradition. Mostly because everyone is so terrible that I feel better about myself after watching it. And isn't that what the holidays are all about?

So that is the list. Put it in stone. It starts and ends with this list. Here endith the lesson.

WE DID IT

Happy 100 Posts to the Krull Nugget. We did what we set out to do. Write stuff! Let's have a video pizza party.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Will This Movie Win an Oscar is Up In The Air

Well it's the holiday season officially. What does that mean? Oscar bait. Now that there are going to be 10 films in the running for best picture (that's too many in my opinion). Up in the Air is already getting overpraised.

But it is good. Based on another novel I have never read (but you know it will be sold with a new cover at Borders to reel in new readers, which is good). It is the story of a "road warrior". He spends 90 percent of his life travelling. You know he's got it down to a science. Two things happen in the course of this movie. He has to show a green employee the ropes and finds a fellow traveler in a airport hotel bar.

Now, although it has been garnering awards already it is not without it's flaws. I can't think of any in particular. I know that people expecting one thing from this movie will get another. It does not end where you expected it to. But that is only a good thing in my opinion.

I hesitate to tell you what a good movie this is because you're going to have plenty of commercials telling you just how great it is on TV. But it really is a good movie. If you liked "Thank You For Smoking" or "Juno" (another one that was praised to the point of backlash) then you'll like this movie.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes, very much.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Yes. Maybe take a date that doesn't have a blond beard this time.

Would you rent it?
Sure.

Would you buy it?
Possibly.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
For sure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Two Thousand Twelve

Even the poster is boring. I went to this due to a lack of much anything else to do. I wanted to see some destruction. I got it. All the best stuff happens in the first two hours. That still leaves another forty minutes. Woof. The world is going to end. It's getting microwaved.

I think this movie got microwaved. If you put Deep Impact and Armageddon in the micro and cooked it for 15 minutes, you'd have this warped mush of a movie. The heartfelt moments are laughable. The destruction is cartoony (which is okay in this case).

Easily passable way to spend 2hr40min if you have the time to kill. If not, go see Fantastic Mr. Fox again instead.


Did you enjoy it?
Meh.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Nah.

Would you rent it?
Blah.

Would you buy it?
Snah.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Flah.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NMH Patience First

I've finally been to the Emergency Department. Not great. Every thing's fine but man o man, I think that's one of the places you just have to experience.

I will be adhering to HIPAA but here are some things that I saw.

A girl in her 20's (maybe) with her boyfriend. He was sporting a thin mustache. She was concerned about vomiting and diarrhea. He was concerned that she couldn't lie down in the waiting area. Comments heard "Maybe next time you have diarrhea she should just stay home."

A party girl (heard not seen). Over served. She was screaming at her two friends "My mom is going to kill me when she finds out I was in the Emergency Room". She begged everyone to let her go. Comments heard "Maybe next time you don't drink so much."

Then of course there was the usual worldly traveler. Many bags. All of them filthy. Not sure what he wanted. Probably Oxycontin.

But the staff was top notch all around. Thanks for the late night courtesy, Jonah. See you never.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Road to The Road

This movie was supposed to come out last year. Charlize Theron was singled out a lot in the trailers. The book is beloved. "No Country for Old Men" won an Oscar in 2008. Uh oh. All these things were working against this film.

Things working in it's favor: Michael K. Williams, John Hillcoat, Viggo, the book itself.

Who won?

I would say the best compliment I can give this movie is that it did the best it could with the source material. Never really reaching the level of emotion from the book, it did do a good job of capturing the bleak nature of the tale. I can't really say it was "enjoyable" in a conventional sense. But it is well crafted and does the best to put the page up on the screen.

The biggest issue was that the father tells me he would do anything to protect his son, but I didn't ever really connect and feel that. Which leaves the end of the movie not resonating. It's the opposite in the book. But having read the book may have soured me for what was on screen. I would be interested to talk to someone who didn't read the book until after and get their thoughts. But I also wouldn't wish anyone to see the movie first and then read the book. I feel they'd be robbed too.


Did you enjoy it?
Yes. Not as much as the book, but that is impossible.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Nope. I would read the book again, though.

Would you rent it?
Probably not. I would check the book out from the library, though.

Would you buy it?
I would totally buy the book.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Yes, I would turn the captions on and read it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox was...Fantastic (had to be done)

Based on the beloved book that I never read, Fantastic Mr. Fox is stop motion by one of my favorite directors. Wes Anderson's films already looked like meticulously crafted doll houses anyways, so why not do stop motion. What a great fit. I wouldn't care if Wes only did movies like this for the rest of his life. He could just do Roald Dahl stories too. Didn't he write a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I thought I remembered reading that book.

Anyways, I'm glad this movie came out this time of year. It really put me in a good mood. "Where the Wild Things Are" is to "The Men Who Stare at Goats" as "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is to "The Informant!" That's a difficult SAT question. No wonder I did so poorly.

Back to the movie at hand. Super fantastic. Well crafted, well voice acted, visually stunning. Plus, uplifting. I really can't recommend it enough.


Did you enjoy it?
Are you cussin' with me? Of course I did.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Of course I would. I'm a wild animal.

Would you rent it?
Totes magotes.

Would you buy it?
Or get it as a birthday present? huh? huh?

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Mos Def.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Informant! is the best movie you didn't see


Whew, that was a close one. Yeah I bet you didn't think I was going to see this one. Well, luckily for me Ames mall has a second run theater. Yeah, evening weekends in Chicago, $11 now. Evening weekends in Iowa...$2. Man, I should move home. Then I could double the viewings of this year. But again, I did get to see a lot for free, so who can complain.

But, boy am I glad I did see this. Remember what I said about "The Men Who Stare At Goats"? Well this mines similar material and does it right. Based on a true story, it tells the tale of corn, intrigue and bipolar disorders. This movie is in a nutshell all true. But depending on perspective, can be told in different ways. In this case, its played for laughs.

But it is not all laughs. Since its grounded in reality, the characters are not necessarily the butt of the joke. The situation itself is the focus. I didn't actually find myself laughing out loud until the third act. At that point it was a 12 layer cake and I had to laugh at the audacity of it all.

Did you enjoy it?
Very much so.

Would you see it in theaters again?
If I didn't have to go to Iowa to see it in the first place, yes I would have.

Would you rent it?
Yessir.

Would you buy it?
Possibly.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Of course I would, Tim.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Post Thanksgiving


Quick shout out to Devin at Chud.com for putting together a great list of terrible turkey movies.

http://chud.com/articles/articles/21683/1/CHUD-QUICK-LIST-TEN-TERRIFIC-TURKEYS/Page1.html

You know some of your favorites are on there. Plus, if for no other reason to post the link, KRULL!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Men Who Stare at Goats
Need something better to stare at

A little fall movie has snuck out in theaters. It's called "The Men Who Stare At Goats". It is directed by Clooney's partner in Hollywood. Is it a comedy? Sure. Zany is their fortay. Is it based on some real people and projects? Yes, but who knows to what extent. Does it have a good cast? Yes, which is the biggest disappointment.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. This movie doesn't know what it wants to be and could have been a lot better if it had chosen a more direct genre. It could have been a hardboiled thriller about the government (with injection of some moment of levity provided by comedy). It could have been a character study about jealously and belief in oneself. It could have been about a seriously disturbed group of confused Army rejects. Instead it goes in 5 directions with a limited amount of rope pulling it every which way.

Not that there is a lot of good stuff out there right now. This was literally a last minute toss up. It was just nice to get out of the house. Okay, maybe not that nice...

Did you enjoy it?
Eh. Barely if at all.

Would you see it in theaters again?
No.

Would you rent it?
No.

Would you buy it?
No.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
No.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Boat that Rocked

"Pirate Radio" as it's known in America was called "The Boat that Rocked" in England. This is like the classic case of TAKEN where the movie opens everywhere except the USA. How dare they? Don't people in other countries know we're number 1? Where would people in other countries be without our movies? We have Hollywood!

But it's hard to discuss being left out in the cold about a movie that is already on DVD in England. Especially a movie that is pretty great. I guess in the 60's England stopped playing rock and roll on the radio. Reminder this is the time of the Beatles, Stones, etc. WTF? England, that's why you lost the war vs the colonies. And now you hold it against us by not releasing the film here for a year?

So, some renegades when offshore to play rock to the england airwaves. I guess this lasted a few years. I'm not sure how much is actually true. It's based on a true story, supposedly. I'm not wasting my Saturday looking on wikipedia to verify any facts.

The man who created this film also created a lot of movies about love: Love Actually, Bridget Jones (movies, not books), Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and assorted Mr. Bean stuff.

This film is the music version of all his love tales. It's a music love story. A boat full of men playing rock. Phil Hoffman, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy, Rhys Darby (Murray from Flight of the Conchords) and a host of others.

It's very fluffy and lighthearted. There is a ton of good rock music. And the loop, who provided me my free passes, gave me the soundtrack. Nice. And a tee shirt. boom. Additionally a Loop sock for my iPhone. Thanks.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Probably not.

Would you rent it?
Yes.

Would you buy it?
Nah.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Sure. According to Tim I would watch any movie on TV. Shut it, Tim.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Valentine's Day plans



I know my "The Room" coverage has fallen off in recent months. I think it was the sensory overload that came from back to back showings. Plus, nothing can beat telling Joel to "watch out" in my lowest calmest tone right before he got hit in the face with a football.

But, The Music Box has been doing a great job of running The Room every month to packed crowds. And to repay them for their hard work, Tommy Wiseau himself will be in attendance on the February 12th showing. That means I might be as well. I want to ask him where that room on the roof goes, because its definitely not stairs to the street!

So mark your calendars and be ready to be torn apart once more!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I wish I had sent my Surrogate
to see Surrogates

I think this fall has been the leading year for big promise, little payoff. What I assume is the end of the strike pictures is here (or was here at the end of last month). Hey, afraid of germs? Send out your surrogate (or avatar this holiday season). Don't want to get hit by a pickup truck? Me neither. And this is coming from a guy who has been hit by seven different pickups on nine different occasions. Send out your surrogate. Do you hate walking? Who doesn't. Spend a lot of money on a surrogate.

So, this movie is about robots who interact in the world while you stay home. What could have been an interesting tale of the soul, friendship and life really is a by the numbers who done it. And it has Ving Rhames looking like Delroy Lindo. Think about that for a minute.

I went to see this after being sick and needing to get out of the house for 82 minutes. I wish I had taken enough cough syrup to make this an enjoyable fever dream. It was not. How can this be in the theaters still and The Informant! is already gone. Damnit.

Anyways, it might be time for Bruno to start doing his indie films and serious roles instead of action. Remember Collateral Damage and End of Days? Yeah, these are Bruce Willis' final bow into action. Please. Hopefully. Time to do more good meaty adult old man roles. Let's consult the list.

Did you enjoy it?
Not really.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Hells no.

Would you rent it?
Nope.

Would you buy it?
Are you crazy?

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Negatory.

Monday, November 2, 2009

You can add "ainous" to anything
and make it magical

Gentlemen Broncos is the third film in Jared Hess' Pathetic People Trilogy. My friend has said that he feels Hess hates his characters. He might not be far off. He definitely enjoys inflicting as much pain on them as possible.

In this case, its a dead bear of a dad, a mom with dreams of $70 ankle length night gowns and the usual kids and adults taking advantage of each other. Oh and Sam Rockwell plays two versions of a fictional character.

The characters are ridiculous. The situations are ludicrous. If you've seen and liked Napoleon Dynamite you could enjoy this. If you liked Nacho Libre then hit yourself in the face. Mole and I agreed that the bad parts are baaaaaad. But there are plenty of laughs to be had as well. But just like his last two films, this will surely split the crowd. I'm glad I saw it. I'm also glad I saw it for free. Proceed with caution but with Sam Rockwell and Jemaine Clement, you know you won't go home empty handed.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes. Laughter was created.

Would you see it in theaters again?
No.

Would you rent it?
Nah.

Would you buy it?
Nope.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Yes.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ahhhhh Booooo!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Schuba's to Lincoln Hall



I have given the Schuba brothers a lot of money this month (although not complaining, because it was reasonably priced and always a great time). I got to see a show at Schuba's on October 17th. Then I got to go to the grand event at their new location Lincoln Hall on October 25th. My thoughts...

First the show at Schuba's. I have always loved this place. So initmate that you are basically on top of the performers. It is a great place to catch bands before they strike it big and move on to larger venues (more on that in a minute). There in lies the problem. First, Chicago crowds are notoriously terrible. Its not that they aren't responsive, but depending on the act, they're loud or annoying. Grand Archives was the band I saw at Schuba's. It was a good show but because they have loud songs and quieter ballads as well, the crowd will adjust their noise accordingly... in reverse. You can't hear them when the band gets loud. But you can hear a lot of conversations during the quiet songs. Why are you coming to these shows, people? I watched 2 sets of couples repeatedly turn around to glare at this guy and girl who kept up a full volume conversation the entire set. Other than that, great job as always. I love the fact that Schuba's post the set times on the doors. So you know when the band you came to see is going onstage. The only other trouble with Schubas (or if you're like me and would like to just get away from it altogether) is they have no backstage. So if you want an encore, they come right back out. Yay.

Now the brothers Schuba have added a second venue to their empire. Lincoln Hall located where the uncomfortable beer serving Three Penny Cinema used to be housed. I have heard concerns about putting a rock venue where there is no parking. About how LP Trixies don't deserve a rock venue. But I think its great. You've got a venue right off the red line Fullerton stop. You can get DePaul kids to straggle in. Plus since I live so far south now, it's a quick trip to get there.

They made this venue their "step up" venue. For acts they originally booked at Schubas, if they are gaining popularity and need a bigger site, this is it. It is about 5 times the size of Schubas. It has bare brick walls that are matched with the warm wood bars. But they've also contrasted the look with some harsh metal accent walls. The "pit" as I call it, reminds me of the Thunderdome. The balcony above make a U shape around three sides above. If you heard the chanting of "two men enter, one man leaves" the ambiance would be complete. But for the most part, they have been able to get a larger space while keeping that initmate feel of the original venue intact. I got to see Ted Leo for their Grand Event and he brought the thunder. I can see that the site will be able to hold up for hard rock shows. I still say Ted's best set was at the Metro, but that's neither here nor there.

Overall, the Schuba brothers have done well to earn my money and I will continue to attend their bookings.

The Invention of Lying

Ricky Gervais directed a movie. He wrote it too. He asked people to be in it. Tina Fey. Ed Norton. Phil Seymor Hoffman. Louis C.K. Tina Fey. Jonah Hill. Jason Bateman. Jeffrey Tambor. Tina Fey. John Hodgman. Jimmi Simpson (McPoyle has the funniest part). Have I mentioned Tina Fey is in this? Well, she is. Martin Starr. Christopher Guest. Of course Stephen Merchant shows up with a pipe (second best part).

The farcical tale of a world void of the ability to lie. Ricky's character becomes the first. If this were made by an American it would be raunchy and zany. Luckily we're in better hands. But that is also its undoing. For such heady material, it is somewhat light on laughs. When they come they are pretty great, but they are somewhat far between.

As per my post yesterday, I'm more excited that this material is getting released than I am about the final product. There's nothing to dislike here, but that is split about evenly with what there is to like. When Ricky Gervais' career gets looked over long after his corpse is feeding daisies, this will be a minor entry.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes.

Would you see it in theaters again?
No.

Would you rent it?
Yes.

Would you buy it?
No.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Yes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I finally know Where the Wild Things Are


The day has finally arrived. Since the book became popular (not on it's true original release but later) people have been trying to make this film. Results: Amazing. But, that said, it didn't capture my imagination. It is visually stunning. The kid playing Max by a kid named Max is great to the max. Hey, remember that show the Maxx on Mtv? Yeah it was awesome.

The production was fraught with peril (I've always wanted to say that!). Serious work by Spike Jonze started in 2005. All studios (original Universal and finally 20th Century Fox) had trouble with the tone. It's a credit to everyone involved that they got this final product out.

So why don't I love it? I guess it all boils down to relation. Most reviews I have read come from guys who say they relate to Max. I might have been a terror as a child, but I don't see myself in him. And that's probably the biggest problem. Many will love this movie and many should. One can only hope and pray that filmmaker's visions make it onto the big screen. For what's playing out there right now, you could do worse (ahem Saw 11). But as sad as it pains me, this won't make my top five of the year.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes.

Would you see it in theaters again?
No.

Would you rent it?
Yes.

Would you buy it?
No.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Yes. No. Maybe So.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Whore Err Moo V Post Errs

To end my Halloween tribute week I would like to share with you some of the movie box cover art that used to haunt my dreams as a kid. Our grocery store rented movies when that became popular and whenever I saw these boxes I'd have to quickly move past them. Please to enjoy.







Come on, how does that not scare kids from using the toilet?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Whore Err Moo V's
Jaws


Thanks to this movie, I've never felt safe in the water. Who knows how many times I've seen this film. So why keep going back? Because Spielberg's technical issues helped him craft a quiet nightmare of a film. Because you take the shark out of the movie and you still have a great drama on your hands. Because the only gimmick in this film is the size and they sell it as utterly believable.

There really is no part of this film that you don't buy. I love this movie. This is the only way to finish the week. Because this is in my top 5, not just top 5 scares, top 5 total.
Now at my age, the first one of this series that was released in theaters when I was able to understand such things was part 3 (which even though it is terrible, I still quite enjoy).

But this is the high water mark. Of course it is. A small New England island town is terrorized by a silent killer. It sticks around because the people in charge are idiotic bureaucrats.
The town sheriff brings in an expert to help them out. Those top three names to my left, they are the ones doing the heavy lifting. The score by John Williams does the rest of the work. If you never want to feel safe in water, be it ocean, lake or pool then watch this.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Whore Err Moo V's
Day of the Dead


Night of the Living Dead: the original was the first gory movie and was ahead of it's time. There's a remake by Tom Savini that I would recommend for fans.

Dawn of the Dead: where he really got good at inventive kills (along with his usual social commentary), but the bright blue makeup really takes me out of it.

Day of the Dead: the money picture. I remember seeing a Saturday morning creature effects show about this. How they used inventive effects and really set the bar.

I only got to see it for the first time about 8 years ago. IFC was doing their Halloween screenings (paired with Dead Alive, jackpot). But the second time I saw it was at a screening at the Biograph attended by George Romero himself. Awesome.

This is the 3rd in his Dead series. The army is stuck in a bunker with some scientists. Nothing really else to say. Things go badly. Watch out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whore Err Moo V's
The Thing

Can you see the poster to the left? The ultimate in alien terror. I concur.

This gem was under my radar until junior year in college. I was at my fraternity one weekend when a lot of people had gone home (easter, christmas, something?).

It was just starting so I figured I would give it a viewing. So I sat alone in my fraternity in the dark. Yeah, I was 21, but damn is this scary the first time you see it.

The tale about some Artic team running a foul of some nasty aliens. One by one the team gets killed and replaced by this alien presence.

Great creature effects, great cast. It's like a haunted house that you can't escape because you're miles from civilization.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whore Err Moo V's
Fright Night

It's Fright Night. This one I remember my mother and aunt watching. Again, I was little and wanted to hang around and was told that if I wanted to be in the basement (home to many of my nightmares: Aliens, Creepshow, Fright Night) I could close my eyes. Don't I have great parents. Well, they did subscribe to HBO and Cinemax, so thanks. You created your own monster. One who loves a good scare.

Now onto Fright Night. It took me years to get through this movie all the way. The tale of a vampire who moves next door.

It is an early version of self referential movie. The kid goes to get help from a TV Host of Horror movies.


It's a funny movie without being haha. The effects are practical but still very scary. These monsters transform into animals. They all have big teeth. Not as well known as some other creature features, you don't want to discount this flick. Where else can you see Amanda Bearse as the love interest.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whore Err Moo V's
Poltergeist

Another one that I couldn't watch as a child. Now I know it as the movie everyone says was 'ghost' directed by Steven Spielberg.

The closet scene. The clown doll. The tree. The pool. The TV. The guy's face. You don't even need to finish any of those sentences.

Nothing really gory or nasty, this is a clean honest to god scary movie.

The two sequels make you realize you can't catch lightening in a bottle twice (nor thrice). In fact you need to watch the Siskel / Ebert review of part three.

But this one, amazing. A tortured family being haunted due to 80's greed.

I am going to put this one on my queue because I KNOW my woman has not seen it before. For shame.

"This house...is clear."

Whore Err Moo V's
Aliens

Another one that gave me nightmares as a child, Aliens is a different breed. Jim Cameron takes the horror sci fi genre and blends it seemlessly with action.

I remember seeing the movie box for this film right next to the movie Alien and trying so hard to figure out the difference. I guess I'm advocating the sequel numbering system. Otherwise you'll have baffled kids out there renting movies in the wrong order. But I guess you can still get confused, like if you rent Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 as a double feature. You'll definitely feel like you just watched the same film twice...and you'll feel like you might be going insane. But I digress.

Aliens is great. I don't have to tell you that. Do I? Ripley has been asleep for like 80 years (since the end of the first one). When she wakes up, of course they ask her to go back to identify the aliens. She gets military backup. Things don't go well.

I remember seeing it on ABC as a kid where there was a turret scene keeping an eye on a hallway. When I watched it years later that scene was gone. I didn't understand until DVDs started putting out special additions with scenes cut back in. Apparently they had to add some extra scenes to the TV version to pad out the time and cut some of the gore. But at least it put my mind at ease that I wasn't crazy.

Anyways, going back to childhood, there are three scenes that really terrified me. The chest burster scene (even the mock version of that scene in Spaceballs scared me as a kid). Terrifying. Then there's the scene with 'Mad About You"s Paul Reiser. With the bings and blips. Super scary. And then of course the water scene with Newt. Yikes. But...that's the point. It is scary and awesome. And one of my favorites.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Whore Err Moo V's
Creepshow



In honor of our Mayor's favorite holiday (and one I'm fond of as well) lets talk about scary movies that have a special place in my heart.

This is one of the first scary movies I remember seeing on TV. I was playing Electronic Battleship with my dad. I was terrified and asked him to turn the channel. He said I could go upstairs if I wanted. I stayed. And with that, my love of horror began.

This is an anthology tale based on comics from way before my time. George Romero and Stephen King team up to bring us some tales. Some funny, some scary, all interesting in one way or another.

We've got a father who comes back to get his revenge (on Ed Harris for one). In another a poor yokel gets a bad case of fungus. A really bad case. The third story shows the serious side of Mayday Malone and Lt. Frank Dreben. Number four has a monster in a box. The last story (my least favorite of the segments) has a guy at war with bugs.

They have various degrees of success in their telling but as a whole the movie is scary and fun. Anthology films are very difficult and horror lends itself best to it. Recently another anthology tale has been released on DVD called "Trick 'R Treat". Early buzz (well it was made 3 years ago) says its good. I will find out soon for myself.








Friday, October 9, 2009

It's Time to Nut Up
Or Shut Up

What can I say about Zombieland that will convince you to see this movie? It's probably the most I have laughed at a theater this year. At least top three. It's probably one of the few times I felt something for the characters legitimately. Again, top three.

If nothing else, like the previews highlight, this is a true roller coaster ride of a movie. From the very beginning when "Columbus" starts giving us his rules to (literally) live by, I was in. This movie doesn't need to explain zombies. It doesn't have to set up the world crumbling. The world is gone. Those remaining are out for themselves. They follow their own codes to stay alive.

There is a great nugget of joy presented to fans in this movie. I'm not going to spoil it. But if you are a male between the age of 25-50 (being generous) you'll love the second act of this film. That's all I'm going to say.

Whatever problems do exist in this film (there are a couple) they in no way bring down the level of enjoyment you'll get from this film. If you like end of the world movies, if you like horror (or can tolerate a little gore) and if you situational humor (not "jokes") then get your butt in the theater.

Did you enjoy it?
1,000 times yes.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Yep. Who's with me?

Would you rent it?
Most definitely

Would you buy it?
It will go perfectly next to my copy of "Shaun of the Dead"

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Yes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Moving Out

Yikes. Well moving is done. Super tired. 4 days was needed to get organized. But everything is in place. New Krull Nugget offices are set up with wifi, so I can Nug from bed or the bath. Got some art hung. Had our first Pork Chop guest (I call him Valentine).

Went home for lunch today. Grilled turkey and cheese sandwich, thanks for asking. Yep, things are really looking up for old Liz Lemon. Now begins the planning for the ever ellusive quintuple feature at Rivs East. Oh, it will be done.

Here's my thinking for a lineup: The Informant!, Zombieland, Invention of Lying, Jennifer's Body and Surrogates.

BOOM!

Monday, September 28, 2009

(Not such a...) Big Fan

From the writer of The Wrestler Robert Siegel comes his directing debut Big Fan. I enjoyed The Wrestler but didn't think it was quite as great as all the hype it got last year. This movie is a lot like that. It's filled with a lot of great ideas for film, but not executed as well as expected.

Patton Oswalt plays the #1 NY Giants fan in the greater Staten Island area. Him and his buddy go to the games. Oh they don't actually get in, they watch it on a TV from the parking lot. Sad face. His life basically consists of sitting in a parking lot booth, listening to sports talk radio, living with his mother and masterbating. Oh and everything Giants. Seriously, NFL bed sheets, sport figure posters. His favorite player is defensman Quantrell Bishop.

One night he sees Quantrell out in Staten Island and decides to follow him. I'm not spoiling anything because its all contained in the trailer. This isn't a movie that has twists and turns (well, maybe a little one at the end). It is a character piece. And it is a fine small little film. It's about choices. He's not unhappy in his life. Everyone around him thinks he should want what everyone else in the world wants. Family, kids, money. He just wants his favorite team to win. He is a big fan, indeed.

I don't want to shy people away from seeing this, just go in expecting a quiet film. Its not bad, just not the next great indie darling I was expecting. It's definitely better than most of the junk out there in theaters, especially this time of year.


Did you enjoy it?
Sure. Not super impressed, but if I had to go thumbs up / thumbs down, I'd go up.

Would you see it in theaters again?
Nope.

Would you rent it?
No.

Would you buy it?
Negatron.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Possibly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roommates

Roommates.
In 1996 I met a classmate. We lived on the same floor of the freshman dorm. We had the same class schedule. We rushed the same fraternities (Yay, Rah Rah...). I didn't live with him my first year but did every other subsequent year. And then a year and a half break after college (I was done, he was not). Then again for a few years until the jerk went ahead and got married, especially when we were so close to common law! We were like Joey and Chandler from Friends (his favorite show).

While I was living with other great friends (Valentine, Signal, DVL) I suggested that he and one of my oldest friends could live together. There, enjoying freshly made pasta and pouring ragu directly onto the plate from the jar, they bonded. They honed their Mario Kart skillz (still not better than me).

Then we had city swaps. One great friend moved to the west and he sent a replacement to the midwest. This guy. He was so nice. I repeatedly nagged him to come out. Got him to join our football team. We shared our early love of Arrested "I want to know what it feels like to get my face punched in". I remember one day I casually asked him where he lived. He said around Clark and Belmont. I said I lived over there too. So, I inquired again for specifics. I always felt that my continuing to question exact location came off pretty gay, but I've never asked him if that's what he thought. Also, it turned out we lived a block and a half away from each other, so it was a fair question.

Then there's Jolly. My oldest friend. Not by his age, but by years we've been not only aquainted but dear friends. As a child, I could see his backyard from my backyard. Never lived in the same city from age 7-23, we've remained close. That may be a bit of a misnomer. His family kept a lakehouse near my home town. He spent a month back in town every year. I'd get to take trips out there. He'd come to visit in college. Then the aforementioned pairing of my roomies with each other. Then he hit the road. Years later when he'd return to Chitown to set up residency, he brought along his lady love. By my birthday the next year he was a permanent fixure on my couch (which is now located at the Car Wash on Damen, if you want to take a look-see).

With leases up all around, MGM powerhouse was born. The perfect location. Two living rooms. The "Rec Center" kitchen. First floor back porch. Completely closed off (except for bike thieves). After that year, we opened the North compound. More space to run and dig. Then we get another "oh uh, I'm in love, later, jerks" move out this summer. MGM was no more. Boo.

I've been blessed to have had great roommates since 1997 (well, I guess techincally my family is okay too). It's nice because I consider them all my family, no matter how long I've known them, or how long I lived with them. There isn't a single one that I wouldn't help at a moment's notice. I'd help any of them bury a body in the desert, no questions asked. You couldn't ask for better roommates or better friends.

So, I'm not sure how to feel that I'm getting what will likely (hopefully?) be the last roommate I ever have next Thursday. That's not true. As I watch more and more of my friends do more and more grown up things, I'm glad to be taking steps towards doing those things myself. I've never been happier.

Monday, September 21, 2009

TV Round Up
Square Down

Well, the kids are back at school. All the junk has been sold at garage sales. All the bunnies have left the beach. Sookie helped kill a bride gown wearing, claw hand having, hippy hippy shaking maeand. So, what do we have to live for? I guess fall TV.

We've started getting new episodes last week and will continue for the next month (stupid NBC always making me wait for 30 Rock). Let's just run through the days.

How I Met Your Mother. The only 3 camera laugh track show I can stand. Not great, but will have a couple laughs a week. Plus it has Willow. Double plus since they used Oxford Comma throughout the season premiere.

Heroes. I tried tried tried. I made it through season 1. I got about 2 episodes in for season 2. That was it for me. It's like Smallville, those wheels they just spin and spin and spin.

House. When I'm watching it, I like to imagine that House is played by Tobias Funke. Try it sometime.

Gossip Girl. Barf.

One Tree Hill. Double barf. How is this still on and the OC was cancelled?

Um, FYI, CSI: Miami is having their season premiere show us how David Caruso got his sunglasses. Boom.

Hey, Jay Leno is on every night. How is this different than any other time over the last 17 years? Oh yeah, because he's taking up precious primetime real estate. Barf filled barf.

Now Tuesdays--
V is coming! V is coming! Please don't blow it.
...and Tuesday is over. Seriously, nothing else is on.

Wednesday--
Until Lost comes back and we get the chance of Scrubs and Better Off Ted, the middle of the week is a waste land.

Thursday--
A plethora of riches. SNL for now (until we get aformentioned 30 Rock).

The Office, woo.

Community. Hope it works. So far, so funny.

Sunny. I totally ignored this on my top of the Aughts. Don't worry, I will remedy with an addendum.

Friday--
Dollhouse. Joss got past his recent one season trouble (Firefly). Now do something. You might recall season one of Buffy and Angel being pretty meh. Here's hoping he can rise to the occasion after shaking off season one blues.

Sunday--
Simpsons. Haven't watched it in 2 years now. I hear it's still awesome.

Family Guy. Short attention span filler. Usually only has about 7 minutes of plot anyways.

Bored to Death. New on HBO. Watched the premiere on Amazon.com and it was promising. Ted Danson is a foxy bastard.

Curb comes back. I definitely have watched it less religiously, but I will be back this year.

So what should I watch that's new?

Community. Joel McHale makes it a lock.

Cougar Town. I do love Courtney Cox. But the real draw is that Bill Lawrence created it.

V. Loved the miniseries as a kid. Hopefully they don't ruin it.

Bored to Death. Zach Galifinakis is in it. Boom.



That's. About. It.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Summer Rodeo Roundup

In Chicago we've had one of the mildest summer's since Almanacs were invented. That's great for a fair skinned albino like myself. But it's been nice to have hot days without immediately having my clothes drenched in sweat. All told, coming off the writer's strike last year we were expecting it to be a mild summer for movies. Thinking of a couple in particular (Star Trek and GI Joe) if they hadn't been handcuffed by the writer's strike, they could have been doubly amazing. As it stands now, they're pretty great anyways. So, let's travel back through the summer that was with our Summer Rodeo Roundup. Yeehaw.

Hey, Cowpokes! Hate romance? Tired of spending the 1st act of a movie learning all the quirks of our love birds. Spending the 2nd act watching them falling in love. Oh wait, what just happened? The second act ended with a misunderstanding or revelation that broke up our couple? OH NO! Shoo! They made it just in time for the movie to end. Barf. Well, then go see The Proposal. If that's not for you, then the winner is (500) Days of Summer. A great movie with a refreshing perspective and a couple of likable (yet human) lead characters.

I only saw one cartoon this summer. Really its the only one that would have won and counted anyways... UP. Gorgeous. Touching. It lassoed my heart and hogtied it to the ground. If you aren't touched by the opening scene then you're a robot and I don't want to be friends.

Oh my gosh! That cowboy just got bucked by a bronco. We the audience are waiting to see if he's going to get up. So dramatic, all this tension. Oh he's okay. That was worse that the Holocaust. No wait, no it wasn't. What it was might be the worst transition for me to discuss Inglorious Basterds. You'd think this would be filed under action. Well, friend, then you don't know Tarantino. Sure, there is some action in it. But what makes this little bull a winner are the quieter more, dare I say, dramatic moments.

Here come the rodeo clowns (yeah yeah yeah). Oh wow. One of them is missing a tooth. Classic. There's a short fat one wearing tight clothes. Clowns clowning around. You know where their located? Vegas. If they don't stop drinking they're going to get a Hangover. I went to the rodeo twice to see these clowns and they split my sides both times.

The horses are acting weird. They can usually sense something. Remember that one in Ring that jumped to it's death from the boat. Yeah, horses know. I feel like I should go to church. I don't want the Devil to Drag Me To Hell. That would be terrifying.

Remember that time when the bull jumped into the crowd? I was sitting next to a guy that got gored by the bull's horns. After we all got back to our seats I heard a woman say she loved all the action but felt bad for the guy who got put in The Hurt Locker. And that guy came back to his seat after getting patched up.

The most unbelievable part of this rodeo is all the aliens in the crowd. Total science fiction. Can't they read the signs? Human Only. No prawns allowed. Isn't there a can of cat food for them to eat somewhere. I wish they'd just go back to District 9 already.

The best part about a rodeo is you know what you're going to get. It's brand recognition. Every time I go, I know what I'm in for. Sure, sometimes bulls don't jump into the bleachers. Sometimes the clowns aren't funny, but for the most part, you get what you'd expect. It's like that TV show that was made into a bunch of movies. And then a bunch of spin off shows. And then some more movies. Then this summer that had a sequel / prequel / new path. You know, Star Trek. That was a good movie.

Well, summer is over. No more state fairs. No more rodeos. Eight winners in this summer's rodeo. Giddy up.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm a Punish for Gluttonment


For those unaware of my family roots. We're grocery store and restaurant owners. Every Sunday our restaurant would have the "Sunday smorgasbord" where I would dine as a child and work as an older child. Fried chicken was always there. Depending on Marc or grandpa's mood, other assorted meats would join the chicken. Mashed potatoes and green beans as far as the eye could see. A pretty great salad bar section was at the front, to trick people into getting their fill before reaching the good stuff.

The point being, I was raised on all you can eat. My friends and roommate in college know that my search for a great buffet was all encompassing at times. For a short while, the KFC on Merle Hay had the legendary chicken buffet. But it soon became an empty store front (probably for basically giving away chicken!). There were many a day when we'd go to Pizza Hut for their lunch buffet. I'm getting off on a tangent again. Sorry.

Anyways. In my Chicago life, that has meant the fall season. That has meant Red Lobster's All You Can Eat Shrimp and Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Bowl. Lucky for me, Lincolnwood has them both and they share a parking lot.

Now, depending on your waitstaff, you can win or lose at this game. Our first trip to Olive Garden a few years ago, meant our waiter would bring us our food and then apparently moved out of the country, never to be seen again. On one trip, the guy was so nice that he threw in free meatballs and sausage til our eyes bled. Red Lobster, the staff has always been super and the lady will come by and ask if we want her to put in the order for the next round because it takes a while to get to us. Fantastic.

We had a Labor Day trip to Olive Garden on Saturday. Under sauced noodles (look at me, I'm a critic for Top Chef now) and low will power made that trip a bust.

But tonight...
Oh tonight....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

World's Greatest Dad
(with Bobcat Goldthwait Q&A)

Holy s&&t. Best black comedy since Heathers. And this movie is the sister to Heathers. Let's start this way. I love the movie Heathers. One of the gems I was able to catch having pay cable as a kid. Vanguard Tuesday on Cinemax. I grew up thinking the term vanguard meant "awesome". A strange tale of a farcical high school. Kids murder, blow up, rally together. What is going on here? Shot in the "Cybil Sheppard" frost lenses, the whole movie is like a dream. That's what I thought WGD(World's Greatest Dad) was going to be. I wish this movie was coming out closer to the release of OLD DOGS, just for the chance that some idiot family were going to that and went in to WGD instead.

For the most part, black comedies don't work. You fall into two categories. Either you go too far and really lose the comedy (Death to Smoochy, Very Bad Things) or you don't go far enough and end up being tame. This movie does both. Goes to far and is too funny. Which is why it sticks the landing regardless of losing steam toward the end of the movie.

You really want to go into this movie knowing as little as possible. Here's what I will give you. Robin Williams plays a single dad. His son hates him. This is the story of their life. Most of the jokes come from the outlandish behavior of everyone involved. The movie takes a lot of shots at a lot of people. A recent event that took America by storm just happened to coincidentally be a part of the plot of WGD.

The writer /director is Bobcat Goldthwait. Yes, Hot to Trot, Police Academy 2-4 Bobcat. He was there for a post film Q&A. All the problems I had with Mike Judge not being a great interview, were not an issue with Bobcat. He said his biggest fear is at his funeral, there will be a big picture of him in a Police Academy uniform.

He started strong with his post acting career with Shake's the Clown. Anyone who has never heard of it, check it out. Bobcat said he refuses to be a part of the Hollywood machine, because as soon as he does, then he can't make fun of it. His films do suffer from small releases because of it, but he doesn't let that affect his work. If you see a post on Craigs list looking for people to work on a film and it has his name on it, it probably really is him.

Did you enjoy it?
Oh yes. Biggest surprise of the fall (don't split hairs with me, if kids are in school, its fall).

Would you see it in theaters again?
Maybe.

Would you rent it?
Yes.

Would you buy it?
Possibly.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Surely.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Extract
(with Mike Judge Q&A)


In college, I got some friends to come with me to see Office Space. This was in Des Moines and of the 6 theaters in the city limits, it was only playing at the theater on the southside. I found that curious. Especially with a brand new 16 screening theater just open. When we got down there, I was again surprised that for a Friday night show, there were a lot of empty seats.

In hindsight, the creator of Beavis & Butthead crafted a wonderful little gem about office life. Quoted still, it seems Mike Judge is destined to be unappreciated in his own time. King of the Hill has been cancelled recently by Fox. His second film was given an even worse release. I believe it was 6 cities. Chicago was one of them, I was determined to spend my cash to get to see it in theatres too. And now he's back with a new film. How is it? We'll cover that later.

First, his Q&A. He was at the Chicago Ain't It Cool screening. A soft spoken man, you'd almost expect him to blend into the background. That's not a knock against him, but it just adds to the wonder when you realize he created two of the dumbest cartoon characters to be protested and picketed in our generation. Anyone expecting him to regale us with tales of mistreatment of his films and great yarns about the Hollywood machine would leave disappointed. As he said, he's happy to get to make films, whether they make money, that's up to the studio to market and release. (As I'm writing this, Extract has just come in 10th place on it's opening weekend). He doesn't have anything bad to say about anyone. The closest he comes, is talking about the real life inspiration for David Koechner's character in Extract based on a lady who lived in his gated community. I don't have any inside secrets or stories to tell you.

Now, the movie. It's very funny. Just like Office Space, some of the laughs are based on some low brow jokes and some of them are very sharp satire. I don't know of anyone else in film who makes movies that can meld both kinds of comedy so well. Jason Bateman does a good job playing the owner of an extract plant. Surrounded by characters, he's the one grounded in reality. His best friend (Ben Affleck) constantly gives him the worst advice. His Assistant Manager at the plant (JK Simmons) doesn't know any of the employees names. So when he talks about specific people, Bateman just has to assume who he's referring to. His wife (Kristin Wiig) works at home and resents him for it. She takes it out on him by setting an 8pm sweatpants deadline. Mila Kunis, we'll she's the wildcard. Her siren song catches the ears of a few men.

One of the best parts of this movie are David Koechner, who plays Bateman's neighbor. He's like the Milton / Lumburg baby. Soft spoken, but unable to buy a clue or take a hint. Unlike Koechner's usual shtick, he plays it subtly and really knocks it out of the park. The second best part of the movie is Brad. Stupid stupid Brad. He's like anyone of the people from the future in Idiocracy, only he's here today with us. He's a real life Beavis.

What doesn't work. Well, the movie has a hard time deciding if it is a farce or set in reality. You sit there and wonder how much you're willing to suspend belief. And because it has one foot in each world, you don't get quite as invested as you should. But the same can be said for Office Space. Which is the only real test you need to decide if you will enjoy this movie. Did you like Office Space? Then you'll enjoy Extract.

Did you enjoy it?
Yes.

Would you see it in theaters again?
No.

Would you rent it?
Yes.

Would you buy it?
Probably. For sure from Blockbuster in the $5 bin.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?
Yes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Aught 10 is Just Around the Corner:
A List of Albums



The Shins sophmore album took their unique sounds to new heights. Song genres from pop, to rock to country influence throughout. Clocking in at 33 minutes, they don't leave room to dilly dally. They take full advantage of the time they use on the disc.

Modest Mouse gets their first radio hit with Float On. It was played for every Red Blooded NFL watching American that year. They got to play 5 tracks on an episode of the OC. Now, personally, I was not a fan of the Mouse before this album. I had a couple tracks that I liked, but this was the first one that really clicked for me. Its a rare thing when I can listen to an album from start to finish, but this is one of those cases. Each track is so distinctive from the last. Yet they are all unified into a wonderful whole that is GN4PWLBN.
Tracks to catch: "Bury Me With It" "The View" "Float On"

College kids with African influences in their sound. Pop majesty. This album is just a delight. Does it raise the bar? Not really? But they're definitely helping the indie world hold that bar up. I guess as I look at my list, its really made up of bands that can put together solid albums. Anyone is bound to make a song someone likes, but when you can craft an album that has a flow and repeat listenability, we've got something special.
Tracks to catch: "M79" "Oxford Comma" Walcott"

Band of Horses (formerly Horses, formerly Carissa's Weird) have the southern soul rock sound that I usually hate (sorry Wilco). But their mix of rock, pop and country (I guess) is in all the right proportions. They're debut album has a lot of quiet moments (again, usually something that literally puts me to sleep). But the "not your everyday" frontman voice really carries the weight of the songs on his shoulders. Their sophmore effort was no slouch either, but their debut is one I can put on at any point and still be mesmorized.
Tracks to catch: "Wicked Gil" "Our Swords" "Weed Party"

Depending on the year throughout the Aughts, you couldn't throw a stone without hitting a great Radiohead album. It's not as ambitious as OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac, but what they learned from those albums they have mastered here. They spent their longest amount of time in between albums to craft this masterpiece. Oh was it ever worth the wait. EMI would have let them do anything they wanted to release, but after putting out "Hail to the Thief" they were free of record contracts forever. Very few bands can offer any price download albums and still make money. Not only do they pave the way musically but also with the future of the record industry. I like all Radiohead albums to some degree but this is my favorite right behind The Bends (no need to start an arguement, we all have their albums listed in different orders). Online I have read that originally they were no longer going to do albums, only EPs and singles. I'm glad they didn't do that in this case. Going forward they can do whatever they want, this album will always exist.
Track to catch: "..." All of them.