So, I’ve watched a bunch of movies the past week. I figured I might take a bit to run down the list and sort of mini-review some of them…
First off, and don’t laugh, but I watched an ABC Family original movie from a few years back called HOLIDAY IN HANDCUFFS. I actually saw this on the rack in WalMart several times…it was combined with 3 or 4 other Christmas-y movies…it sounded sort of, well, delightful. I never picked it up though. Good thing, as I saw it under Christmas movies in the Netflix streaming list. It’s actually really good. Melissa Joan Hart plays a wannabe artist who works as a waitress and has basically no prospects…her boyfriend has just dumped her, and she just bombed the interview her dad got her with a family friend…an interview for a serious job, no more of this dead end artist nonsense. Her parents are expecting her for Christmas- they have rented a massive cabin in the middle of nowhere, there’s lots of snow on the ground, they have a tradition of banning cell phones at these get togethers, and they’re expecting their daughter’s boyfriend to make an appearance. Since she’s basically screwed everything else up, she HAS to bring her boyfriend. But, since he’s just dumped her, she has no choice but to bring a guy who happens to be in the diner, a patron played by the uber-charming, Mario Lopez, who is there to propose to his girlfriend, a nasty and arrogant gal played by Gabrielle Miller (Lacey from Corner Gas). Lopez is certainly not coming to her Christmas willingly, so she kidnaps him at gunpoint, thanks to an antique, but working, gun the restaurant has on display.
It’s pretty much the typical cliched story of two people in a weird circumstance who should hate each other, but discover they have a lot in common and eventually fall in love. It’s an ancient story, and it’s been done better in other films, but this one is nice as well. Markie Post does a nice job as the mother who is constantly trying to make the best Christmas ever. The setting is beautiful, and who wouldn’t want the type of Christmas they have with their various traditions and all? Lopez and Hart have nice chemistry, and their love is ultimately sort of believable, if not a bit silly. It’s all fairly cheesy, but it’s comfortable and light throughout. There are some decent laughs, and no one ever takes things too seriously. 7/10 on this one. Now, I just need to check out the other ABC Family film with Melissa Joan Hart called My Fake Fiance. Sort of the same plot line, but in this one they apparently pretend to be getting married in order to score the many gifts that come along with weddings. As luck would have it, that one is on Netflix too.
So, let’s see. I also watched the Mel Gibson movie, Get The Gringo. I had tried to watch this before but would always start it, get 5 minutes in, then go to bed because it was too late to finish. I finally watched a downloaded copy I had for about an hour only to realize that the spanish in the film DID have subtitles, just not on the version I had. So, I had to go back and watch all the parts with subtitles on Netflix streaming…finishing the movie there. A weird movie, to be sure, but it’s a good one. I sorta kinda love Mel Gibson for a lot of reasons. He does a superb job here given the odd material. A Mexican prison filled with kids and families and an almost carnival-like atmosphere, run by a shady bad guy who is need of a kidney transplant, but he has a very rare blood type, so he keeps a kid in the prison who shares his blood type for the day he’ll need the transplant? There’s some well executed action throughout the film, plus it’s funny. Gibson is the ultimate bad ass, and he makes it through on his likeability. The actor who plays the kid is excellent, especially given his young age. I’d give this one a 7/10 as well.
I also watched a movie I had been wanting to see for a while now. I have a habit of wanting to see subpar films apparently. This one is called Homerun Showdown. It looked like a cute family movie, and better yet, it stars Matthew Lillard, an actor I’ve liked since seeing him in the first Scream movie (which I love). The script here wasn’t perfect. In fact, it was, as mentioned, kind of subpar, but I still liked the movie. It was cute, warm, and lighthearted, despite the inclusion of some deeper themes throughout. The actors all did a fine job. Lillard was likeable as he always is, and Dean Cain was hateable, which was a change for him, as he’s usually the charming nice guy. It’s the story of a rag tag bunch of kids who form a baseball team after being cut from the tryouts of the regular league. If they can find a coach, they can field a team. They find Lillard, who once played minor league ball for a very short period of time. He now works at his dad’s bar and grill…dad played by The Rocky Horror’s Barry Bostwick (likeable as well!) Lillard’s heart isn’t into coaching, and he’s only roped into it through a competition with his brother– whoever can snag more balls at the homerun showdown gets to own the bar when dad retires. Dean Cain is Lillard’s older brother, and as it turns out the more successful of the two. He owns his own car dealership and used to play major league ball until an injury ended his career. Cain is set up as the mean one, Lillard as the nice guy. There’s a subplot involving romance with Lillard’s character, but frankly it made no sense. They didn’t explain how the two wannabe lovers knew each other, so how they came to be a couple was just weird. Some of the dialogue sounded as if it came from a script written by someone who had no idea what they wanted to say, but still, in totality it worked. Let’s give this one a 5.5/10.
Okay…so, onto Magicians starring two hilarious Brits– David Mitchell and Robert Webb, the two stars of the series The Mitchelle and Webb Look and the even funnier, Peep Show. This is a sort of throwaway film, the script was silly, and there weren’t as many jokes as I would have liked to see, and they weren’t anywhere near as funny as the ones in the series, Peep Show (which is written by the writing duo who wrote the film’s script), but I liked it overall. Mitchell and Webb have great comedic timing, and they have a nice comedic chemistry together, they play off each other so well. Webb the dummy and Mitchell the completely lacking in self esteem loser who can’t seem to do anything right. This film has them as a magic duo who were on top of the world, but it all came crashing down when an accident involving Sarah Hadland (from the brilliant British series, Miranda) cut their careers short. The story follows them years later trying to win a prestigious magic award, but bickering the entire time and eventually going off into their own solo acts. Like I said, this movie feels almost like a throwaway, but again, I liked it. Not perfect, but you can’t go too wrong with these two comic geniuses. 6.5/10.
I watched a documentary called Craigslist Joe. It’s the story of a guy named Joe who decided to spend 31 days living completely from Craigslist. He ended up traveling from Los Angeles to NYC, down to Florida, then back across the country to L.A. to end his journey at a New Year’s eve party with friends on Dec 31. He would get all his food from Craigslist stuff, volunteer opportunities, ride shares, etc. He had only a laptop, cell phone, his backpack, a set of clothes, and one guy with a camera. He wanted to see if community was truly dead, or if he could depend on the kindness of strangers. It was pretty cool to see him travel across the country, finding ride shares on the site, crashing in various houses of the people he met along the way. He did a bunch of volunteer jobs. He got food by meeting new people and explaining his story. Some people bought him meals, others cooked for him or invited him to dinner with them and friends. A lot of people shared their lives and their life stories with him. It was really endearing, and maybe it shows there a lot of nice people out there willing to lend a helping hand. But, the flaw with the film is that it wasn’t really about a guy living off craigslist and the kindness of strangers, but rather a guy making a movie, followed by a camera topped with a shiny light. That ruined the experiment part of it, but I always like this sort of thing just to see normal people and how they live and as close to normal as possible since there IS a camera there and a stranger, so that’s not precisely 100% normal for any of them. It’s probably as close as you can get though, and I tend to lamely live vicariously through them, the wish that I could so easily meet total strangers and get to know them in a matter of hours or, at most, days. 7.5/10
Finally, I watched Headhunters, the film based on the novel by Jo Nesbo. It was bloody as hell, pretty graphic many times, and filled with blood. It did have a nice plot with some interesting twists along the way. In this one, Roger Brown is a headhunter who finds the best talent for the best corporations. He’s also an art thief, a habit he has to stick with in order to pay for his lavish lifestyle and to keep buying the expensive stuff he thinks makes his wife happy, though a kid or two is what she really wants. He explains at the start of the film that he’s 5’6″ and he uses money and the stuff it buys to compensate for that lack of height. It’s all Reputation with a capital R. He steals art by tricking various people into letting down their guard and telling him when they will be away from their homes, what works of expensive art they have, etc. In comes Clas, a potential new CEO for a big company looking for a good leader. It turns out that there are nefarious things in play and Clas is a very bad man. I won’t give away too much of the plot, but it’s filled with gun play, violence, fighting, and lots and lots of blood. It’s a fun film that misses the mark in a lot of ways. It could have been so much better with some changes to the script, but as the pattern goes here so far, I liked it. 7/10.
My plans for tomorrow? Watch the following- Trollhunter and maybe Rare Exports.
BBC’s new epic nature series, LIFE, is available today (June 1) on DVD. It follows after the wildly successful series, PLANET EARTH. It’s 11 episodes of wonder, plants, animals, and much more…all about life on the planet. I have a copy and have been watching parts of it (it’s VERY long, over 11 hours!), and it’s fantastic. The photography and epic nature of the thousands of hours of footage is mind boggling. They apparently shot the series over a period of 3, 000 days.
Check out some of the photos below that go along with the series…
Just finished THE INFIDEL, one of the selections from the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. FANTASTIC movie. Hilarious, sweet, touching, well acted, all of the above and more.
Omid Djalili plays the liberal-minded British muslim, Mahmud. He drinks every now and then, he swears, he doesn’t go to the mosque very often, he seems to be pretty laid back on the subject of religion. From the opening scene of Mahmud watching his favorite singer, 80′s glam rocker, Gary Page (a spoof on the metrosexual 80′s rock stars), it’s clear that this is going to be hilarious. Mahmud’s young daughter walks around the house spouting what sounds like terrorist rhetoric (it’s cute when the kids do it), and his wife seems to have the same laid back attitude about islam. Their son seems to be a bit more into the whole religion thing, if only to marry his sweetheart, whose mother has just married a muslim extremist and whose blessing they need to get married.
Mahmud’s mother has just died, and while going thru her house to pack things up, he sees adoption papers with his name on them. Through a very funny argument with a records clerk played by Miranda Hart (Not Going Out, Miranda), he discovers he was actually born jewish- adopted by muslim parents. He soon learns who his birth father is (by wrestling away the records from Miranda Hart, whose character is in a wheelchair), and is on his way to see him. Turns out, he’s on his deathbed and papa’s rabbi demands he be more jewish before he can see him. This leads to a very funny series of events where Mahmud befriends a jewish cab driver played by Richard Schiff, a rather non-committed jew in some aspects, though very religious in other ways. He tries to teach him the basics, from the dancing to the proper way to say “oy.” The two men become close friends, leading up to Mahmud attending a bat mitzvah where he’s forced to tell an old fashioned comical jewish story. All the while, he’s dreading the arrival of his son’s girlfriend’s new stepfather (the possible terrorist supporting cleric.)
I’ll leave the plot there, needless to say we get most funny for the first 3/4 of the film, some touching moments mixed in, and at the end it gets a bit serious with the film’s message that, well- we are who we are. We’re not all perfect religiously, we’re not all perfect people in general even, but we should embrace the various aspects of ourselves and do the best we can with it.
Great acting here by everyone. Djalili is hilarious as usual. He’s genius just standing in the shower scrubbing himself and yelling “jew, jew, jew,” as if he can clean the jew off him somehow. Schiff is nice here, also playing the funny man but doing his best to let Djalili shine throughout. And he does.
There’s a scene in the mosque, Mahmud is going to tell the imam that he’s jewish, but instead the imam presumes he’s going to tell him that he’s gay. No problem, the imam says…the koran is VERY strict on this subject, but islam is about interpretation no? The koran says the punishment for this is for brimstone to rain down from the sky, but I believe that brimstone has already rained down inside of you. And that should be good enough for allah, right? That’s satire at its best, my friends.
Very nice directing here, and the look of the film is fantastic. There’s a scene after things have gone a bit downhill for Mahmud, where he’s walking through the stalls from vendors that have been taken down, a piece of cloth is whipping in the wind as the vendor pulls it down for the day, it’s as well done visually as any scene from any number of epic films in history.
The music is brilliant throughout the film, the couple of songs from fictional rocker Gary Page are actually really catchy…I’ll admit it, I found myself trying to find these songs online. There’s some great stuff in the score that punctuates the little acts of jewishness, and those pieces scream “jew!” all over the place…the clarinet and all, it’s wonderful.
Highly recommend the film. It was a hilarious adventure they may have needed to be edited down a bit, but the pacing is nice, Djalili is perfect, you get some touchy feely stuff, you get comedy, you leave the film feeling great about life in general, 9/10 all the way. Maybe even 9.5.
You can watch The Infidel and many (all?) of the 2010 Tribeca film festival movies online or OnDemand.
This is a bit late to post, but it’s interesting information nonetheless. The Monty Python documentary aired in 6 parts last week on IFC. I believe it will run again over the next month, and it might be available on IFC OnDemand. I’d check into that, because it was a lot of good Python information…for example, did you know that both Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones directed Holy Grail? They both had very different styles and would often contradict each other, so the cast had issues with this…it all worked out well in the end though, as the movie was a success overall. Not to mention, it’s often listed as one of the funniest British movies ever.
Check out the Pythons below and Eric Idle singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life with the Fallon house band, The Roots!
Monty Python Interview, Part 1 (10/14/09) [5:17]
Jimmy asks Monty Python’s John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones how they would describe Monty Python and how they came up with the name.
Monty Python Interview, Part 2 (10/14/09) [3:36]
Jimmy talks to Monty Python’s Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, and Jones about their IFC documentary and the Monty Python animations.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (10/14/09) [3:36]
Monty Python’s Eric Idle performs “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” with The Roots.
Hulu has the first reason of the British comedy series, KINGDOM, starring the always funny Stephen Fry.
Speaking of Fry- he might be coming to a PBS station near you. His 2008 6 part documentary series, STEPHEN FRY IN AMERICA, is now airing on HDNet in the US, but it starts feeding to American Public Television subscribing stations (most PBS stations get various feeds from APTV) this Monday. So, I assume some stations around the country will start airing it.
UPDATE: Josh was a pleasure to talk to, and he gave us all some really great information on his background, the series as a whole, and a good look at what to expect for this new season starting September 9! If you click “read the rest of the entry” at the bottom, I’ve attached the transcript from his conference call. I will hopefully be able to write up a bit more about the show in the next few days.
I will be talking to Josh Gates, the host and lead investigator on the SyFy series, Destination Truth. Gates travels around the globe in search of answers to some of the world’s biggest mysteries. The third season of the series begins September 9 at 10/9CT on SyFy.
Here is some more information on the series and Josh Gates:
World traveler and intrepid explorer Josh Gates returns to host all-new quests in season 3 of Destination Truth – each an off-the-map adventure in search of the answers to some of the world’s most intriguing unexplained mysteries.
This season, Josh will travel to some of the most extreme locations on earth, including the isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and the heart of the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Viewers will also ride along on unprecedented investigations, including the world’s first overnight exploration of King Tut’s cursed tomb and pitch-black dives in ancient Caribbean caves.
Host, Destination Truth
Explorer, adventurer, and photographer Josh Gates hails from the small town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. A graduate of Boston’s renowned Tufts University, Josh holds degrees in archaeology and drama. His work and travels have taken him to more than 75 countries around the world.
An avid scuba diver, he has participated in sub-sea archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean, and his work as a photographer has taken him from sweltering African villages to the icy heights of the Himalayas. In addition, he has scaled “the roof of Africa” on Mt. Kilimanjaro, climbed Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Americas, and set foot in more than 75 countries around the world. Josh holds degrees from Tufts University in archaeology and drama, and was recently inducted into The Explorers Club, a prestigious global organization dedicated to the advancement of exploration and field research.
Josh currently resides in Los Angeles.
Come back here after the conference call for more information on the new season and see what Josh has to say about his adventures!
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said Obama’s speech at the leading Catholic university on Sunday confirmed what he had said at a recent news conference — that signing the so-called Freedom of Choice Act in the U.S. Congress wasn’t his highest legislative priority. The bill would protect a woman’s right to have a child or end a pregnancy…
The article didn’t mention the protest by dozens of U.S. Catholic bishops who denounced Notre Dame for honoring Obama because his abortion rights record clashes with fundamental church teaching.
God, the catholic church is full of ninnies. Forget all that Bible stuff, we’ll ignore core Christian values like the sanctity of life and such. These people are out of their minds. Like others have noted- if the vatican won’t stand up for a group of bishops trying to protect life, who will they stand up for, and what issue WILL they take a truly christian stand on?
Ol’ Benedict and his gang need to get their heads out of their collective asses and get real. Then again, it’s not like this is a big issue or anything, it’s just the slaughter of millions of babies because some idiot women just can’t be bothered with taking responsibility for their own actions. Selfishness is awesome, ain’t it?
“Whew, my life won’t be bothered…but you, you’re tossed into a garbage can like tonight’s table scraps! Sorry little guy, that shit’s just cramping my style!”
This video is great. A British MP tosses the whole salary issue back into the BBC anchor’s lap, forcing her to admit she makes over 90k when he makes just under 65k. Funny when you think they’re both paid from taxpayer money. I’m surprised she actually answers the question…then again he did use the threat of ‘freedom of information.’