Friday, October 01, 2010

I'm back from Disney World! Flying was incredibly terrifying (nothing bad happened, I was just panicky in general), the rides were awesome, the entertainment and food was top notch, the princesses where HOT, and the only downside was that the inter-park/resort transportation was too cramped.

All in all, a really good time. Look for posts on Facebook for more. Anyway, let's finally finish the movie ranting up.


(What? I just tried to come up with the most ridiculous anime title I could.)

1991-1998: Meh

By far the biggest grouping of years yet, these years comprise most of my teens, and I have to say, it wasn't much of a decade for movies. Oh there were really good ones, but for every classic there was a 'Hook' (can you believe it made 300 million?!), and for every deeply satisfying tale there was a crappy 'famous actor' vehicle that wasn't good enough to stand up on its own (I'm looking at you, Forrest Gump).

1992 was almost good enough to stand on its own, with Aladdin, Lethal Weapon 3, a Few Good Men, Unforgiven, and Scent of a Woman, but it's just not...enough. Besides, I had to sit through K2 that year, which was easily the most disappointing R rated movie a 14 year old could see at the time.

1996 was also a good year for action movies, with Independence Day, Twister, Mission Impossible, and the Rock all in the same year. It was sort of a one trick pony though. If you wanted comedies you had...Cable Guy. Great.

Some of the notable standout performers:

Beauty and the Beast
Silence of the Lambs
Addams Family
Groundhog Day
Nightmare Before Christmas
Interview with the Vampire
The Usual Suspects
Men in Black
LA Confidential
Truman Show

1999-2007: 9 Years of Mediocrity

You could almost sense the beginning of the 'wave' in 1999. Star Wars Episode I was about to be released. I was graduating from Brookdale and one of my fellow graduates had the 'countdown to release' on the top of his cap.

Can you remember that? A time when the thought of the Star Wars prequels filled us all with joy and wonder? Good times, good times.

When the wave finally crashed, we not only found ourselves with two and a half hours of mediocre crap, but a disturbing new trend. For 9 years straight, hollywood...well...stopped trying.

Every movie was either a sequel, a remake, a movie shamelessly trying to become a trilogy, or a super hero movie. Nobody seemed to care about movies anymore. They were just something that 'happened' each summer.

Even the great series, like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, all seemed to become routine, and failed to excite us anymore. Strong movies like Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, Casino Royale, Spiderman, and Transformers, were quickly followed up by mediocre sequels that just ruined the original for us as well.

2000 was a particularly interesting year, as not only was there only a single good movie all year (What Lies Beneath), but it also seems to be the year that the Oscars got its head stuck up its ass. Remember when any movie could win awards? Now it seems that you can only win the big Oscars if nobody's seen your movie. Before 2000, there was no such thing as 'Oscar bait movies', as every movie could possibly win. Now, if you're not indie, then you might as well stay home.

If it weren't for Pixar, I'm not sure if we would've made it through most of this decade at all.

Some notable exceptions that weren't setups for trilogies, and terrible followups:

What Lies Beneath
Monsters Inc
Spirited Away
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
The Departed
No Country for Old Men

Yup, that's it. Sad, isn't it?

2008-present: Heath Ledger sets us free

It's an absolute tragedy what happened to Heath Ledger, and worse yet, after filming Brokeback Mountain, he also went on to die young.

Regardless, he's my personal savior, as far as movies are concerned, because he finally gave us hope. In a way, the 'wave' of trilogies/remakes/crap was continuing, as the Dark Knight was yet another trilogy bait movie, but Heath managed to transcend the genre, and his part, by pulling out all the stops, and presenting us with not only the most terrifying Joker in history, but also one of the greatest villains ever.

It was this performance (and to some degree the tragedy) that saved us from the wave. With so much money from a single movie, people began to reassess 'success'. Sure, it was a superhero movie, but it was the amazing and unique performance which drew everyone in.

Of course, Ironman and Twilight caused the wave to sort of continue, but in 2009-2010, Hollywood seemed more open for experimentation, resulting in Avatar, which took the world by storm, and also more thought provoking hits, like District 9, Angels and Daemons, Inception, and more.

Even the kids movies and teen comedies (Toy Story 3 and Easy A, for example) just seemed...better. So what happened? I think I know:

People began to yearn for new and better movies. It wasn't enough to release the same crap over and over. America (and the world) wants to be 'wowed', and the box office results prove it. Sure, they may stumble here and there (Scott Pilgrim and such), but I think Hollywood gets it, so I have a good feeling that next summer will be one of the absolute...

Oh wait, they're just re-releasing all the Star Wars movies in 3D.

Never mind.

Anyway, with all these possibilities it's difficult to say which was the best for movies, but since waffling or declaring ties if for wusses, I'm going to have to go ahead and give it too...


It may have been before I was quite ready for movies, and it might not have had all the hits, but this was just a great year for seeing 'good' movies. No matter what time of the year it was, you could go to the theater and see a movie that's not only on its way to becoming a classic, but is both entertaining and thought provoking as well. What more could you ask for?

Once again, some of the notable hits of that year:

Dark Crystal
Airplane 2
Blade Runner
The Thing
Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan
First Blood
Road Warrior
Conan the Barbarian

Go ahead. Grab a bucked of popcorn and take your pick. They're all well worth the price of admission. ^_^

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A woman once asked me a question…okay, it was Amber…anyway, asked why every kids movie needs to have rap songs in the soundtrack.

Now, nothing against rap (being white, I’m legally obligated to not understand it, mind you, but I still appreciate its merits), but these days it seems that every non-disney kids movie needs to be crammed full of mainstream pop songs of all kinds, including rap and R&B, even if all the characters are as white as the driven snow.

So I’d like to take a moment and point the blame where it belongs: Robin Williams.

Okay, only sorta. You see, where this really began are the family movies that wanted to be family friendly, while simultaneously ‘hip and with it’. As most of you know, this combination usually goes as well as peanut butter and negligent homicide.

Regardless, if you count it as a kids movie, then where it seemed to start was in 1993 with Mrs Doubtfire. Technically, it’s a normal comedy, but it was squarely aimed at kids, and they’re certainly the ones that kept filling the theatres to see it to listen to House of Pain’s hit “Jump around”. Who can forget family friendly lyrics such as ‘if your girl steps up, I’m smacking the hoe’?

All in all, it was family friendly comedies that weren’t specifically kids movies where the trend started, but if you want to know the first definite kids movie that included rap songs in the soundtrack, from what I can tell it was The Rugrats movie in 1998, which had several rap/R&B songs in the soundtrack. Yes, believe it or not, Dreamworks was not responsible. It was Nickelodeon.

Anyway, back to searching for the best year for movies in my lifetime. One thing’s for certain, it’s not going to be in the 90’s. Man, was that a lousy decade for movies.


Plenty of shameful movies here, that weren’t so much ‘terrible’ as make us wonder what we were thinking: Home Alone, Pretty Woman, Dances With Wolves, and Ghost. You see? Not so much ‘I regret seeing it’ as ‘I regret having it in my DVD collection’.

There were a few good movies, but nothing earth shattering, besides Misery and Goodfellas: there was Kindergarten Cop, Back to the Future 3, Total Recall, Die Hard 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (what? It was a solid movie, damn it!).


Can you believe that Hook made 300 million dollars? For that crapfest?! I think that movie was the record for most acting careers simultaneously impaling themselves into the ground at once.

These three years were ‘okay’ for movies. They didn’t include too made winners, but quite a few good ones, and say what you want, at least they were original. The best of them are probably Unforgiven, Groundhog’s Day, and Nightmare Before Christmas. Other hits include:

Terminator 2
Addams Family (started/revived virtually every career in the movie)
Beauty & the Beast
Silence of the Lambs (either the best or worst date movie ever)
Hot Shots
Lethal Weapon 3
A Few Good Men
Scent of a Woman (along with the above, it made 1992 a great year for angry speeches)
Jurassic Park
Schindler’s List
Sleepless in Seattle
The Fugitive


This is where Hollywood began to really get lazy. For two solid years, it seemed that every movie included the same small handful of actors, playing exactly the same roles, in what as well may have been the exact same movie, multiple times. Again, there were a few gems, like Speed and ‘Interview with the Vampire’ (arguably Tom Cruise’s best performance ever), but the movies just seem inferior to that of the 80’s, overall. A few notable mentions:

Forrest Gump
Lion King (The dreaded beginning of fart jokes in Disney movies)
True Lies
The Mask
Dumb & Dumber
Four Weddings and a Funeral (AKA Five of the Same Thing)
Clear and Present Danger
Se7en (winner of the coveted ‘most pretentious title spelling’ award)
The Usual Suspects


Ah, the rise of the big budget blockbuster. There were a few here and there earlier on, but this is where it really started, with Independence Day. Suddenly every summer needed a star studded movie either by Michael Bay or James Cameron, with a 200 million dollar budget, a ridiculous script, and no shame.

Oh well, it was better than the mediocrity that came out in the few years before. In 1996 the big movies were Independence Day, Mission Impossible, and the Rock. In 1997 the big movies were Titanic and Men in Black. Finally, in 1998 it was Armageddon and Saving Private Ryan.

Like the ‘bully movies’ of the 80’s, these mega hits didn’t leave much room for anything else. The few notable exceptions were Twister, Fargo, LA Confidential, and the Truman Show (the sound you hear is Jim Carrey’s career peaking).


If you sense the rumbling of something dreaded approaching, it’s not just you.

This was a big year for movies…perhaps too big. All at once were a bunch of movies that weren’t exactly Oscar worthy, but regardless, drew unprecedented crowds to the theatres, and not just the teen girls that saw Titanic 20 times, no, this was everyone.

The came in hordes to see movies like:

Star Wars Episode 1
6th Sense
Toy Story 2
The Mummy
Austin Powers 2

Perhaps it was all the big blockbusters of the previous few years, but people were now coming to the movies in droves. Imagine you’re Hollywood, standing upon the precipice of this amazing new market trend. What do you do?

Do you build a strong audience through innovation and talented creators, like in the 70’s?

Or do you just churn out sequel/remake after half-assed sequel/remake, for a decade straight?


Thursday, August 12, 2010

A man once asked me if “George W. Bush wants to go to Mars, why doesn’t he first come down to Earth?”

He asked me this, unprovoked, in line at McDonalds, six months into Obama’s presidency.

A far more sane and relevant question once asked of me was “What year, since your birth, has been the best year for movies?”

Considering it was asked in a kitchen of a good friend’s house, I’ve decided to answer this one, instead of just slowly backing towards the emergency exit.

I’m not counting movies that came out before I was two. At that age anything with flashing lights and colors would impress me…come to think of it, that would pretty much remain true until my early 20’s. Regardless, we have to start somewhere, and that place is the 80’s, starting with 1981:

1981 and 1983

Why have I included 1983 in there as well? Because they’re close together, and share something important in common: they were years with a ‘bully movie’, or in other words, a movie where one movie completely dominated the market, causing Hollywood to push off their better movies until the following year.

In 1981, that movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark, and in 1983 it was Return of the Jedi. Both fine movies, Ewoks aside, but a single great movie isn’t enough to carry you for a whole year, so we have to leave these years behind, and go on to…


Now this was a fine year for movies, although not all movie snobs may agree. Oh sure, it didn’t have the 4 star critics choice movies, but looking back, it had a ton of very good ones (especially if you’re a geek):

Dark Crystal
Airplane 2 (you might not remember, but the Airplane movies made a ton of money)
Blade Runner
The Thing
Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan
First Blood (the first Rambo movie, and the only one I’m willing to watch)
Road Warrior
Conan the Barbarian

What? Okay, these aren’t exactly ‘high cinema’, but dammit, they’re great all round entertaining movies! It’s so rare to have a year with so many good ones.


It was a bright and cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen…

Sorry, got distracted there. 1984 was an alright year for movies. There weren’t too many great ones compared to mediocre/bad ones, but they had Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Terminator, and This is Spinal Tap. Not too shabby, if you ask me.


Ah, what a great year for 80’s movies. In fact, it’s probably the definitive year for 80’s movies. Granted, these are all 80’s movies, but this was the year with movies we’d come to define the 80’s with:

Back to the Future
Breakfast Club (I am still ready, willing, and able to rock Molly Ringwald’s world)
Goonies (ditto for Kerri Green)
Teen Wolf
Weird Science
Rocky 4 (ditto for…just kidding ^_^)

1986 and 1988

Yes, another grouping. Only this time, these were years that had a few very nice gems, mixed in with a good deal of mediocrity. It was like eating a large bowl of Frankenberry cereal, only with most of the marshmallows picked out (sorry Stephen).

Little Shop of Horrors
Stand By Me
Labyrinth (ditto for Jennifer Connelly, but that pretty much goes without saying)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (always a lot of fun)
Die Hard
Aliens (stop watching the series here)
Naked Gun
Beetlejuice (one of the most original movies ever made, period)


This was the year for ‘guy’ movies. Action, comedy, and horror ruled the day, and rightly so. ^_^

Okay, there’s more to life than just machinegun fire, geeky jokes, and topless women…but could you imagine a world where there wasn’t? What a place it would be.

Lethal Weapon
Full Metal Jacket (stop watching when they arrive in Vietnam)
Beverly Hills Cop 2
Princess Bride (not just a chick movie, regardless of what anyone says)
Running Man
Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (this and 4 were the best of the series)


I almost grouped this in with 86 and 88, as it was a mediocre year for movies littered with a few gems, but it’s interesting to note that this year featured two movies that redefined their genres, and opened up the market for a whole new slew of movies: Batman and Little Mermaid.

Kids movies and Superhero movies were suddenly hot, and that popularity is still continuing on to this day (until it ends with Thor, later this year).

Other good movies include Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lethal Weapon 2, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids (a fun movie, despite the crappy sequel).

Well that’s it for the 80’s, which all things considered, was an excellent decade for movies. What comes next?


Pure 90’s flavored ‘PAIN’.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Old Future

Ah, another month gone by, lost to incessant typing at work, and it's time to force the twisted, malformed claws that were once my hands to crank out another blog post. Good times. ^_^

I've been watching some old sci-fi movies and TV shows, and one thing that intrigues me is the 'old' future.

I'm talking about the future from three or more decades ago, when everyone had laser guns the size of toaster ovens, wore jumpsuits, and fought against the dark forces of the universe while sporting mullets.

Not only is it goofy, but it's a lot of fun to see how things match up to the way real life turned out, especially when a simple invention from our own present could have literally solved most or all their problems in a heartbeat.

Here are some of my favorite examples:

Time Chasers

YEAR: 2050

THEIR VISION OF THE FUTURE: Kids with cell phones.

SUMMARY: Nevermind that the secret for time travel is kept on eight floppy disks (that's the soft 5in disks), but the future is basically just like today, only with more colorful clothing, and kids using cell phones. That is, until the main character, a time traveling buffoon, accidentally turns it all into Fallout 3.

SOLUTION TO ALL THEIR PROBLEMS: Going back and killing the main character's grandfather. I think it's worth a shot.

The Jetsons

YEAR: The faroff year of 2002

THEIR VISION OF THE FUTURE: Futuristic Flintstones, only with robots and sliding floors instead of dinosaurs.

SUMMARY: The curiously empty (where the hell is everyone?) future is inexplicably far up in the sky, and everyone is moved around on giant conveyor belts, or in personal space ships, both of which look like the worst death traps ever imaginable.


Star Wars

YEAR: Long, long the future

THEIR VISION OF THE FUTURE: Cross Dune with Buck Rogers, Muppets, and 70's hair cuts.

SUMMARY: Cowboys/Samurai/Monk/Bene Gesserit heroes destroy evil/nefarious/villainous/Orwellian dickbags, through the power of the force/hope/magic/love/blindly wandering from scene to scene without planning or communication.


Star Trek

YEAR: 2264+

THEIR VISION OF THE FUTURE: Amazing handheld devices that allow them to communicate with each other from long distances away (but not see eachother or take pictures), comfortable jumpsuits, and lots of alien sex.

SUMMARY: The crew blindly teleports down to a planet without sending any sort of probe, lose one member of their team to killer aliens, discover their their phasers are useless, and then karate chop their way to universal peace.

*As a side note, I'd like to add that in one episode of Star Trek Next Generation, Riker vaguely remembers an incident similar to the one they were currently having, and Data agrees to research it. The time it will take to do the research? 7 hours. Can you imagine a world where it took 7 hours to find basic information? Here's how that'd go in present day:

RIKER: "I remember some other incident in the past similar to ours. I need you to research it in the computer. How long will it take?"

DATA: "Seven hours."

RIKER: "You're fired. Jordi, could you..."

JORDI: "Already got it."


SOLUTION TO ALL THEIR PROBLEMS: Cell phone cameras and Google

Space Mutiny

YEAR: 2000...something

THEIR VISION OF THE FUTURE: Space ships that run on Commodore 64s, psychic strippers, and sets remarkably similar to modern breweries.

SUMMARY: Strong heroes and treacherous villains do battle in an old abandoned factory while riding tripped out zambonies. Eventually the villains are shot, and fall over railings, to their deaths.

SOLUTION TO ALL THEIR PROBLEMS: Better railings, and any form of transportation that's far more quick than a zamboni, including golf carts, Segways, or walking.


YEAR: The near future

THEIR VISION OF THE FUTURE: the 80's, only more so

SUMMARY: Brain surgeon, rocket scientist, 80's rock star, and master samurai 'Buckaroo Banzai' takes on evil aliens that look like fish-men, and have names like 'Big-Booty'. In his spare time, he blows the world's mind with amazing world changing invention, rocks out mid-80's style, and romances Ellen Barkin.

SOLUTION TO ALL THEIR PROBLEMS: a better looking girlfriend

Friday, January 29, 2010

Play it, Sam

I've been gone for a month because I've been doing nothing but type at work, and my hands look like Dumbledore's in the last Potter movie.

So instead of a full post, I'm going to cut and paste my 100 all time favorite songs. I recently assembled them because I want to see which I have, and which I need to get through iTunes.

To keep it from being just Dubliners and They Might Be Giants, I'm putting a cap of 6 songs at most from each performer.

Feel free to judge my worth as a human being from the list:

Silent hill theme, Akira Yamaoka

Killing me softly, Aretha franklin

God only knows, Beach boys

Sabotage, Beastie boys

Ballad of john and yoko, Beatles

Black bird, Beatles

Come together, Beatles

Penny lane, Beatles

Ticket to ride, Beatles

Godzilla, Blue oyster cult

These times they are a changin', Bob dylan

More than a feeling, Boston

Meanwhile rick james, Cake

Surrender, Cheap trick

Lady in red, Chris de burgh

Run run rudolph, Chuck berry

Bad moon rising, Creedence clearwater revival

Have you ever seen the rain, Creedence clearwater revival

Come on eileen, Dexy's midnight runners

Cover of the rolling stone, Dr. hook and the medicine show

Anything, anything, Dramarama

Black velvet band, Dubliners

Dirty old town, Dubliners

I love him the best, Dubliners

Mcalpine's fusilliers, Dubliners

Rocky road to dublin, Dubliners

Hotel california, Eagles

Wonderful tonight, Eric Clapton

More than words, Extreme

Smile for me rose marie, Flying machine

Whole lotta love, Frank zappa

Clint Eastwood, Gorillaz

Boston and st johns- live, Great big sea

Pulling muscles from a shell, Head automatica

Let her cry, Hootie and the blowfish

End of the tour, Hotel lights

White rabbit, Jefferson airplane

All along the watchtower, Jimi hendrix

Purple haze, Jimi hendrix

Ring of fire, Johnny cash

Suicide is painless, Johnny Mandel

Dust in the wind, Kansas

Jenny was a friend of mine, Killers

When you were young, Killers

Kashmir, Led zepplin

Stairway to heaven, Led zepplin

Mack the knife, Louis armstrong

Whiskey in the jar, Metallica

Enter sandman, Metallica

One, Metallica

Smooth criminal, Michael jackson

Thriller, Michael jackson

Never had to knock on wood, Mighty mighty bosstones

Riders on the storm, Moody blues

I am I said, Neil diamond

Bizarre love triangle, New order

Don't speak, No doubt

Don't look back in anger, Oasis

When a man loves a woman, Percy sledge

Comfortably numb, Pink floyd

Money, Pink floyd

Shine on you crazy diamond, Pink floyd

Us and them, Pink floyd

Wish you were here, Pink floyd

Whiter shade of pale, Procol harum

Another one bites the dust, Queen

Hammer to fall, Queen

One vision, Queen

Seven seas of rye, Queen

Somebody to love, Queen

Under pressure, Queen

End of the world as we know it, REM

Mothers little helper, Rolling stones

Paint it black, Rolling stones

Under my thumb, Rolling stones

Sound of silence, Simon and garfunkel

Tonight, Smashing pumpkins

Still remains, Stone Temple Pilots

Santeria, Sublime

Head over heels, Tears for fears

House of the rising sun, The Animals

Monday Monday, The Mommas and the poppas

Don't stand so close to me, The Police

Lie still little bottle, They might be giants

Narrow your eyes, They might be giants

Put your hand inside the puppet head, They might be giants

Raincoat, They might be giants

Spiraling shape, They might be giants

They'll need a crane, They might be giants

I think we're alone now, Tommy james and the shondells

Xmas eve/ sarajevo, Trans Siberian Orchestra

With or without you, U2

Moondance, Van morrison

Blister in the sun, Violent femmes

Gone daddy gone, Violent femmes

Buddy holly, Weezer

Only in dreams, Weezer

Yoda (live version), Weird Al

All she wants, Wham

Gone til november, Wyclef jean