7 Quick Reviews of 5 DVDs from Jan/Feb an FAQ about Time Travel and Gravity (Sci-Fi Edition)

My DVD folder was bursting at the seams but after I deleted a few dogs, I had 7 good reviews and all but one of them was sci-fi fantasy. I didn’t plan it. That’s how it worked out.

Here are 5 DVD reviews from January and February that are past-due (sorry). But I included a great movie from Ireland from 2009 that I saw recently that is worth the space. And I finish off my Oscar posts with a review of Gravity.

It’s a free-for-all.

To the reviews…

First up… from the UK

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009 Picturehouse Entertainment)

FAQ About Time Travel

Directed by Gareth Carrivick

Written by Jamie Mathieson

Starring Chris O’DowdDean Lennox KellyMarc Wootton & Anna Faris

FAQ is a fun, low-budget Science Fiction comedy adventure about the perils of time travel. It is smart and it is funny and it is very entertaining. Directed by the late Gareth Carrivick, it is the misadventures of three friends at the local bar who get dragged into a conflict between time-travelling factions from the future.

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

This little, ultra-low-budget movie is way better than, the severely overrated, big-budget Edgar Wright debacle; The World’s End (a film that ended up on too many 2013 best lists if you ask me… and you didn’t). Having no continuity problems even though it involves time travel as its main theme and having real characters with depth and humor make FAQ About Time Travel a better film than The World’s End… by far.

FAQ-Time-Travel-Dowd-Feris

Chris O’Dowd plays the Time Travelling enthusiast who meets a girl at the bar who says she came back to repair a hole in the timeline but that she took a detour to meet one of her heroes… Him; A sad-sack who can’t hold a job and thinks she was paid by his two ne’er-do-well friends as a joke. Obviously, he’s wrong.

FAQ

But as the time hole spreads, he and his friends travel back and forth through time visiting the same bar in the past, the present & the future to hilarious effect. Proving once again that a good story well-made doesn’t have to cost millions to be entertaining.

Rent it (If you can find it)

Next up… a remake (or reboot I guess)

Carrie 2013 (MGM)

Carrie

Directed by Kimberly Peirce

Written by Lawrence D. Cohen & Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Starring Chloë Grace MoretzJudy GreerAnsel ElgortPortia DoubledayAlex RussellGabriella Wilde & Julianne Moore

Brian De Palma already made a fine adaptation of Stephen King’s supernatural coming of age horror-thriller. So, these guys already had a blueprint. All they needed to do was update it. Just add some hip-hop or pop-culture references. How do you fuck that up?

Carrie 2013

Carrie 2013 is a bad movie. For one, they make you wait for a bloody prom scene that does not deliver. But mostly because it is sloppy and insipid and not at all scary.

Chloe and Julianne

The only thing good about this Carrie were the performances by Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore. Both of them are very good, playing the religiously insane mother and daughter (played in the original by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie)  Their insane relationship is the best part of the movie. Everything else was garbage. Everything.

Skip it. (Rent the original Carrie. It is creepy. It is scary. It is still good)

Next…  Something dumb

Riddick (Universal Pictures)

Riddick-poster

Written & Directed by David Twohy

Starring Vin DieselJordi MollàMatt NableKatee SackhoffDave BatistaBokeem WoodbineRaoul Trujillo & Karl Urban

Riddick is the dumbest piece of crap I have ever seen. Not the worse movie but the dumbest. It is stupid. There isn’t a thing that happens or a word that is spoken or a plot point or an action piece. There isn’t a thing in this movie that isn’t a dumb thing to say or do. It is the dumbest piece of crap I have ever seen.

Urban and Diesel

And it’s not just that the movie Riddick doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t make sense. Every move, every line, everyTHING is dumb. The characters do the dumbest shit. They say the dumbest shit. And just because they growl their idiotic lines doesn’t make them cool. They are dumb.

2419_FPF_00175R.JPG

Character A says something stupid. Character B answers with something stupid. Character A responds to that with something else stupid. And then they go do something stupid together. The animals are stupid. The monsters are stupid. People die in stupid ways, doing stupid things after stupid last words. I can’t stress enough how stupid it is.

Katee-Sackhoff

The only thing I could find that was of any value in Riddick was Katee Sackhoff’s slammin’ body. That woman is gorgeous. But everything she does or says is dumb. I mean technically dumb. Scientifically dumb. Logically dumb. Strategically dumb. The lines sound interesting but are not coherent. Characters do and say things that have no place in the logical world. It was amazing. It was one of the most amazing feats I’d ever seen.

Riddick on a stupid bike

The movie Riddick is so dumb. It is so very, very, spectacularly dumb.

Skip it. (I forced myself to watch it all just to see if something happens in the movie that isn’t dumb. It is consistently dumb from beginning to end. So I’ll give it that much)

Next up… another adaptation

Ender’s Game (Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate)

Ender's Game

Written & Directed by Gavin Hood

Based on Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Starring Asa ButterfieldHarrison FordHailee SteinfeldViola DavisAbigail Breslin & Ben Kingsley

Ender’s Game is a great story but we all knew that going in. If you haven’t read the book, read it. But the movie takes a little while to get going. Yet once it does, it’s pretty cool.

Ender cast

Harrison Ford is his regular Harrison Ford self. The man cannot act. I’m sorry Ford fans. He mugs for the camera and points. He quivers his chin. It’s awful. (I said the same when everyone was going on about how good he was as Branch Rickey in 42). But he has a big recognizable name, has done a bunch of great films and gets people in the seats.

enders game

The screenplay and the direction of Ender’s Game left a lot to be desired (Gavin Hood is responsible for both) and the children… It’s so difficult to find good child actors. So I give them some slack for the bad acting. Half of the cast have Oscar nominations or Oscar wins in the past but overall the movie is poorly acted. Bad direction is usually responsible when that happens. Ender’s Game is badly directed and badly written.

Arias, Butterfield and Steinfeld

The story however is phenomenal and although it deserved better, it still shines through the filmmaker’s awful decisions. The effects and the action and the story is good and since that’s all you really want from a sci-fi B movie, I have to reluctantly recommend it.

ENDER'S GAME

Ender’s Game has Harrison Ford, a good story and special effects but I still wanted more. Ender’s Game the movie was only disappointing because the story deserved better. I hope they don’t plan to let the same director/writer make the next one.

Skip it (If you’ve read the book. But if you haven’t this movie is a decent presentation)

Next up… some superhero animation…

Justice League: War (Warner Home Video)

Justice League War

Directed by Jay Oliva

Written by Heath Corson  Based on Justice League: Origin(2011–12) by Geoff JohnsJim Lee and Scott WIlliams

Justice League: War was pretty cool if only for being the story of how each hero from the Justice League meets the others for the first time. Batman meeting Green Lantern. The both of them meeting Superman and so on. I’ve always liked a good hero on hero fight when neither trusts the other and there are a lot of good ones in this.

JusticeLeagueWar

But the writing is silly. The story is sloppy. It’s a little too childish. It moves a little too fast. The dialogue is dumb and so the movie is not good. Not worth the time.

justice-league-war

I’m sorry. Justice League: War is not a good movie. Not even Darkseid could save it.

Darkseid

War is short. So that’s good and bad. First they try to squeeze so many first meetings and origins stories into a short film and still offer a bad guy for our heroes to fight but because it is so silly and so badly written, I really wouldn’t have wanted to see what they did with another half an hour.

The Justice League

Other than the novelty of DC’s signature superhero team meeting each other for the first time, there is little of interest and very little that is entertaining.

Skip it.

Next up… something that’s not sci-fi…

The Spectacular Now (A24)

The Spectacular Now

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber  Based on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Starring Miles TellerShailene WoodleyBrie LarsonJennifer Jason LeighMary Elizabeth Winstead & Kyle Chandler

Wow what a good movie. The Spectacular Now is based on a novel and it is a very well written adaptation. I love a good coming of age movie especially the ones that take themselves seriously. This is straight drama. Straight awesome.

"The Spectacular Now"

It’s not your run-of-the-mill teen angst film or the common party teen movie, this is a relationship film. A beautiful film. The main character is the quintessential party animal from other teen movies, with a devil-may-care attitude toward his future and a personality that makes everyone think that every thing goes his way all the time.

spectacular-now-car

But it’s a miserable existence and you can see it in his eyes and in the eyes of his friends. They love him. You can’t help but love him. But his life is going nowhere. He is an anchor.

Miller

I identify so much with him. Even though I was never good at it, I tried to be him. I tried to be the guy that didn’t care. The happy-go-lucky, bottle of whiskey carrying, not smart enough to know that he’s smart enough to know better, wasted teen. And like him, mine too was a façade of pain. Did I say how much I loved this movie?

Spectacular

This was a great movie. Well-acted, well-directed and very well-written. Romantic and touching and real and I loved every minute of it.

Rent it. (no spaceships, no superpowers, no time travel, no heroes, just a good movie)

Next up… we have THE TALK about Gravity.

Gravity (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Gravity

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón

Starring Sandra Bullock & George Clooney

It is hard to review Gravity without giving it away because the entire movie can be spoiled in one sentence. Not that there is only one sentence to describe the movie Gravity. Far from it. But it is a short film with only two major plot-lines. Astronauts in space trying to survive a cataclysmic satellite disaster and a rookie astronaut trying her best not to be useless and disastrous and, in my opinion, suicidal.

Sandra

The movie Gravity is just the movie Life of Pi set in space, where Sandra Bullock is the tiger… or is it George Clooney that’s the tiger? It’s both. Sandra is the tiger because her character is a destructive and useless sack of shit who George Clooney decides to try to save to his own detriment. Then later, George becomes the tiger. (But that would be a spoiler if it made any real sense… It doesn’t).

George

Gravity is a well-made film. Extremely well-directed. However, it is a stones throw away from being an animated feature. 99% of the movie is some sort of effect (Much like Life of Pi) and there is a great stillness mixed with danger and a solitude that brings wisdom and understanding between the two main characters (again… just like Life of Pi).

Sandra and George

But truthfully, I hated Gravity until the end. I spent most of the film wishing that Sandy would just die already so that I wouldn’t have to watch her screw something else up. Why are you up there? Did you really just go into space as an elaborate way to kill yourself?

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

But it ends well. It really does. So this is where the SPOILERS come in.

<<SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! >>

This is the bad… She goes from useless to bad-ass astronaut in seconds. She goes from suicidal to survival mode in one hallucination. The ghost of George Clooney helps her out and all of a sudden she’s efficient and capable. Yes! I knew it was coming and Yes! it is satisfying when she finally decides to save herself and stops wanting to join her daughter in the afterlife. And it did make me yell, Yes! Because it is awesome. But a part of me saw it as the Life of Pi ending. The alternate story. the brutal truth. She just died. She just fucking died in the Russian module. End of movie. So, like I said… satisfying.

<<END OF SPOILERS>>

Bullock

My visceral reaction to the film proves, to me at least, that it is a fine work of art. A heart pounding thriller. Gravity is a horror film where the “Jaws” monster is the deadly quiet, high-speed, flying space debris. Gravity is a cast-away film where the island is slowly sinking into the ocean. Gravity is awesome. Gravity is fucking awesome.

Rent it. (It is a short film. Not the best acting but absolutely the best direction. And it is a must see for space fans even if the physics aren’t always quite right)

So to recap…

There were two fantastic movies about dysfunctional relationships; Gravity and The Spectacular Now,  Both of them rooted in reality.

There were two horror-thrillers about insane killers; Carrie and Riddick, Both of them Horror-ble.

There were two movies about the formation of world-protecting super groups: Ender’s Game and Justice League: War, Neither of them living up to the source material.

And an FAQ About Time Travel that was tremendous but it’s also five years old.

See you guys at the movies,

– Mel

Guilty Pleasures: 9 Movies I’m ashamed to admit how much I like (until now)

These films aren’t Casablanca or Citizen Kane. They aren’t Star Wars or Blade Runner. But I own them all just the same. And I think I watch them even more than those other “better” films. These are the movies people love to make fun of, while I meekly retort, “You know I really like that movie.” hoping no one has heard me.

Keanu and Patrick

These are the movies that I’ve seen 5, 6, 17 times apiece but I don’t brag about it. These are the movies I quote when no one knows I’m quoting a movie.

These are the movies I’m ashamed of liking… but I don’t just like them.

I love them.

Bring It

These are the 9 movies that I’m (a little) ashamed to admit how much I like.

To the list…

Point Break (1991, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros) 

Point Break

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Written by Rick King & W. Peter Iliff

Starring Patrick SwayzeKeanu ReevesGary Busey & Lori Petty

“I am an F, B, I, Agent!”

“Yeah, I know man. Ain’t it wild?”

The first time I saw Point Break I thought it was called 100% Pure Adrenaline. It introduced me to Kathryn Bigelow and how much she kicked serious action movie ass. Point Break is about an FBI agent who goes undercover as a surfer to try to break up a ring of surfing, skydiving bank robbers. This is a catch your breath adrenaline thrill ride.

Point-Break

I love this movie. I can quote almost every line and often do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled “whose ball is this? Who works here?” in the middle of a store.

Point Break is probably my favorite of the movies I’m ashamed to admit that I like. Point Break gets a bad rap but it is good. It is very fucking good.

“Last time you had a feeling, I had to kill a guy, and I hate that… It looks bad on my report.”

Rent it.

Next… a western.

Silverado (1985, Columbia Pictures)

Silverado

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Written by Lawrence Kasdan & Mark Kasdan

Starring Kevin KlineScott GlennRosanna ArquetteJohn CleeseKevin CostnerBrian DennehyDanny GloverJeff Goldblum & Linda Hunt

“It ain’t right. And I had enough of what ain’t right.”

The only western on the list is one surprisingly well-written, star-studded, cool as hell action movie. Silverado is cool as all hell. The cast alone is amazing with some of my favorite actors and some awesome cameo appearances. Silverado has some of the coolest western shootouts ever filmed where every minor character (there are many) gets to have their own amazing fight scene, witty dialogue and gorgeous costumes. This is one of the best and most stylish westerns ever made.

silverado-1985

Silverado is about four different gunfighters who, for different reasons, have given up that life only to be reluctantly pulled back in when a gang of well-financed baddies take over the town of Silverado. Or something like that. I forget the plot. Silverado, to me, is just a collection of really cool shootouts and very cool characters and infinitely quotable lines.

“I don’t want to kill you and you don’t want to be dead.”

Love this movie. Rent it.

Next…

Singles (1992, Warner Bros)

Singles

Written and Directed by Cameron Crowe

Starring Bridget FondaCampbell ScottKyra Sedgwick & Matt Dillon

“I’m probably sterile. It runs in my family.”

Okay… first of all the Singles soundtrack is one of my favorite albums of all time… no joke. But… we’re here to talk about the movie. I really loved this movie.

Fonda, Dillon and Cornell

Singles is the story of a group of friends who all live in the same apartment complex and are looking for love in 1990’s Seattle. Director Cameron Crowe knows how to mix music and movies together to make magic. Singles is amazing in that regard.

Alice in Chains and Soundgarden both perform in the film while Pearl Jam appear as Matt Dillon’s band Citizen Dick. And I’ll tell you the truth. I had no idea who any of these bands were before seeing the movie. Now they are three of my favorite bands of all time. Throw in Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees and Smashing Pumpkins for good measure and you have a killer soundtrack.

The story is boy meets girl. Boy loses girl and yada yada yada… It’s funny… but the music-

Fonda and Dillon

Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon are both amazing and funny. And the movie is very sweet. Cameron Crowe is good at his job. And there are some cool cameos throughout.

“Well at least I don’t have to CHASE the popcorn!”

I love this film. Rent it.

Next…

St. Elmos Fire (1985, Columbia Pictures)

St. Elmos Fire

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Written by Joel Schumacher & Carl Kurlander

Starring Emilio EstevezRob LoweAndrew McCarthyDemi MooreJudd NelsonAlly Sheedy & Mare Winningham

“Marriage is a concept invented by people who were lucky to make it to 20 without being eaten by dinosaurs.”

St. Elmos Fire was the crown jewel of the Brat Pack era. All of your favorites are here. Lowe, Estevez, Sheedy… Demi. It’s a movie about a group of friends becoming adults and dealing with the baggage of their romantic pasts and the unsurety of their futures..

St. Elmos Crew

It is hokey and corny and dated. And I love it so much. There was a time when I could quote St. Elmos Fire from end to end. I haven’t watched it in a while but I still love it so.

“You break my heart. Then again, you break everyone’s heart.”

Rent it.

Next…

Bring It On (2000, Universal Pictures)

Bring It On

Directed by Peyton Reed

Written by Jessica Bendinger

Starring Kirsten DunstEliza DushkuJesse BradfordGabrielle Union & Clare Kramer

“Hey ladies, wanna see my spirit stick?”

Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku and Gabrielle Union in cheerleading outfits. (Don’t judge me) Bring It On is a fun, funny, sexy, sassy movie. It’s the story of rival cheerleading squads competing for the championship. Or something. I don’t know. But it’s important to them.

Kirsten Dunst

It’s a sports movie. It’s a high school comedy. It’s a music montage waiting to happen. It’s a bikini carwash on the side of the road. It’s a guilty pleasure. There were sequels (each one worse than the next) and there’s a musical. But there can be only one: Bring It On.

“Where the hell are my spanky pants?”

I love this movie. Rent it.

Next

Streets of Fire (1984, Universal Pictures)

Streets of Fire

Directed by Walter Hill

Written by Walter Hill & Larry Gross

Starring Michael ParéDiane LaneRick MoranisAmy Madigan & Willem Dafoe

“Everywhere I go, there’s always an asshole.”

Streets of Fire is a rock and roll fable. It’s Walter Hill at his best. Streets of Fire is an underrated, creatively produced, long-form music video. Slick, stylish, unique. Streets of Fire was severely panned when it came out but I, for one, loved it.

Streets of Fire

The soldier boy fights the greaser for the prom queen all to a rock and roll rhythm and the songs of Jim Steinman, Ry Cooder & Dan Hartman. The Color. Editing. Atmosphere.

Willem Dafoe

“The only problem with kicking the shit out of you is that it would be too easy.”

I love this movie. Rent it.

Next…

Charlie’s Angels (2000, Columbia Pictures)

Charlies Angels

Directed by McG

Written by Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon & John August Based on Charlie’s Angels by Ivan Goff & Ben Roberts

Starring Cameron DiazDrew BarrymoreLucy LiuBill MurraySam RockwellKelly LynchCrispin Glover & Tim Curry

“You know they say that in death all life’s questions are answered… Will you let me know?”

I love the Charlie’s Angels movies. Whether your Bosley of choice is Bill Murray or Bernie Mack, these movies are fun, funny, action-packed films with likable, beautiful stars.

Charlie's Angels Cast

The Charlie’s Angels movies are a lot of fun. Love the casting. Love the action. Love the fight choreography. But what I love most are; Drew, Lucy & Cameron. I wanted a third one.

 “You’re very good. With your hands. I could use someone like you on my staff.”

Rent it.

And of course…

Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle (2003, Columbia Pictures)

Full Throttle

Directed by McG

Written by John August, Cormac Wibberley & Marianne Wibberley  Based on Charlie’s Angels by Ivan Goff & Ben Roberts

Starring Cameron DiazDrew BarrymoreLucy LiuBernie MacCrispin GloverJustin TherouxRobert Patrick & Demi Moore

“Just once I’d like to walk out of a bar!”

Full Throttle is more of the same enjoyable action and comedy from the first Charlie’s Angels. Bernie Mack replaces Bill Murray (There were stories). But the second movie was just as good as the first. And I wanted a third.

Demi and The Angels

I really wanted a third movie.

The Angels

“It’s raining white women.”

Love it. Rent it. Got it.

Lastly…

The Big Hit (1998, TriStar Pictures)

The Big Hit

Directed by Che-Kirk Wong

Written by Ben Ramsey

Starring Mark WahlbergLou Diamond PhillipsChristina ApplegateBokeem WoodbineAntonio Sabato, Jr.Avery Brooks & China Chow

“All I wanted to do was to sail my boat, man, you know? Navigate by the stars, see dolphins race alongside, you know, maybe even kill a few of them.”

The Big Hit is an action-comedy where Mark Wahlberg and Lou Diamond Phillips play high-testosterone, professional assassins. The Big Hit is about a gang of hit men that are being hunted or have been betrayed. Or something. I don’t know. It’s funny. It’s exciting.

Wahlberg and Phillips

The main guy is named Melvin Smiley. He’s dating Christina Applegate and flirting with China Chow. So there’s that. And there is a lot of cool action. A lot of big explosions and shootouts. It is very funny and sexy and like all the other movies on this list… It does not take itself too seriously while it entertains. And it entertains.

The Big Hit Cast

Produced by Wesley Snipes and John Woo. The Big Hit gets a bad rap. But I love it.

“C’mon, Mel. You know I love you, baby!”

I love this movie. Rent it.

So to recap…

I love all of these movies, so I don’t see their flaws. And they are flawed. I love all these movies, so I forgive their lack of depth or acting or cinematic subtext. They entertain me and that’s all that matters. I love all of these movies and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

See you guys at the movies.

– Mel

Best TV Show Bass Lines (Take 2)

When I was a kid, I used to love to jam out to TV theme songs with killer bass lines. Which one is your favorite? Update Two recent shows have been added…

Barney Miller

Barney Miller Theme Song.

The Bob Newhart Show


The Bob Newhart Show Theme Song.

Sanford and Son


Sanford And Son Theme Song.

30-rock

30 Rock Theme Song

brooklyn-nine-nine


Brooklyn Nine-Nine Theme Song

-Mel