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.
“Criss Angel Mindfreak” Premieres August 12 at 10 PM ET/PT ON A&E
NEW YORK, August 12, 2009 – A&E Network has executed a comprehensive, innovative, cross-platform campaign to enhance the “The Five Lives of Criss Angel” positioning for the launch of season five of “Criss Angel Mindfreak,” premiering on Wednesday, August 12 at 10 PM ET/PT on A&E.
As Criss Angel embarks on his most death-defying season to date with five one-hour death-defying specials the A&E Marketing team has supplemented traditional marketing with an innovative strategy including a cutting-edge 3D billboard on Sunset in Los Angeles with built-out coffins, 3D tombstone taxi cab tops in New York and a series of five ads throughout an issue of AM NY handed out by street teams dressed as mourners on premiere day that play into each of the death-defying episode themes. The team executed a viral marketing stunt at Comic-Con that featured a funeral procession of five coffins, pallbearers and mourners.
Additionally, the team expanded the strategy with a branded online game, augmented reality experience tapping into each of the specials themes and the first-ever television promotion within the Sony PS3 HOME Virtual Environment.
“Criss Angel creates event television and we wanted this marketing campaign to be as innovative and unexpected as the man himself,” said Guy Slattery, Senior Vice President of Marketing for A&E. “While the campaign is multi-platform it has a singular focus; that you will see Criss literally putting his life on the line each week for five weeks.”
Branded Online Game – “Kill Criss Angel” is a branded online game that lives on the A&E Criss Angel homepage allows fans and foes alike decide whether they want to help or kill Criss Angel as he attempts the dangerous “White Death”
demonstration. The game play adjusts according to the user’s personal opinion of the world-renowned mystifier. In addition, Facebook Connect allows users to proudly display to their friends whether or not they ultimately helped or killed Criss Angel. The “Kill Criss Angel” branded online game was designed and developed for A&E by The Visionaire Group, a leading digital creative agency based in Los Angeles.
Augmented Reality Experience – “The Five Lives of Criss Angel” is an augmented reality game that takes players through five levels that relate to each of the five episodes of the fifth season of “Criss Angel Mindfreak.” One of the first of its kind, this groundbreaking initiative leverages augmented reality to make the user’s hand the game controller, controlling the main game piece through hand gestures in front of a standard web camera. The game was created by New York based creative marketing firm Circ.us.
PS3 and Xbox360 – PlayStation Home the 3D social gaming service for PlayStation 3 users will now have the opportunity to watch “Criss Angel Mindfreak” video vignettes in the Home theatre. In addition, users have the opportunity to win two custom virtual items including a Criss Angel branded coffee table and coffin couch to accessorize their personal apartments in world. Digital billboard advertising will be used throughout various PlayStation Home spaces to promote all elements of the campaign and ultimately encourage tune-in to “Criss Angel Mindfreak” on A&E. Horizon Media Inc. paired up with strategic gaming partner Engage In-Game Advertising, to create the unique campaign in the PlayStation Home. A&E is the first network in PlayStation Home to promote a television series and the first-ever branded virtual furniture giveaway. Dynamic in-game advertising in extreme sports and racing titles across both Xbox 360 and PS3 were used to complement the campaign in Sony Home. These two genres were selected to target the thrill seeking male who is a part of Criss Angel’s core audience. Titles include: Shaun White Snowboarding, MX vs ATV Untamed, Skate 1, Skate 2, Need for Speed, Need for Speed Undercover, Need for Speed Pro Street and Dirt.