Friday, January 28, 2011

Shameless (US Series)

....and USA Remake Week concludes...

Shameless (US Series):
How William H. Macy Gave Me Faith
In American Remakes

As I'm sure is evident by my writing this week, and the many other times I've mentioned this, for some reason american production and television people, have issues when it comes to adapting a program from any other country for american viewers, and though in concept the ideas sound great, most of the time they end up watered down, cheaply made knock offs of the shows they're created from. Using this week's other write ups as examples of what I mean; Being Human suffers from idea that if you have a modern show with vampires and werewolves, you have to pander to the Twilight fans and make the vampire like Edward and the werewolf almost passable with out a shirt. And Top Gear suffers from among other things, lack of originality and cowardice to be honest about anything they review out of fear of a company not advertising on it. Both are good examples of what I mean, we water down and strip any originality or charm from a program and claim its "made for american viewers" when infact its not. Its depressing really.

And that is why when word came down that after afew years in development hell, the US version of the hit British cult series Shameless was finally on its way, I did kind of cringe alittle. When word got out that there was a giant race to get the lead roles of Frank and Fiona Gallagher, Frank being the most important role in the series and Fiona being a key in the start of the series, I jumped for joy at the idea of some of the list that were trying out for both roles, it was literally a who's who of A list and highly praised but hadn't found that role to break through yet actors and actresses, serious it was like a fans dream casting. And that made me insanely excited. When word came down that the incredible William H. Macy, who has been a favorite of mine sense Pleasentville and Mystery Men, was to play Frank Gallagher, I nearly screamed for joy like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Beiver concert, yes, I was THAT excited. And when word got out that it would be airing on Showtime, the network that has put such great shows as Weeds and Nurse Jackie on the air, I could not have been more happy, for it really is the perfect place to let this show be what it is, and not have to water it down.

For those of you that aren't aware of the concept of Shameless, its best explained as the classic series Roseanne, but with a larger and poorer family, to quote the show's creator, "where Roseanne was about lower lower class blue collar, Shameless is about a family so poor they have no collar.". It tells the tale of out of work out of luck Frank Gallagher and his six children who live in the poorest part of Chicago, and struggle through the often hilarious, often serious, often completely insane world around them. Veiwers of the original series might notice that the show does follow the same plot as the original, just transposing locations from an estate in Manchester (england england across the atlantic sea..) for a rundown house in Chicago, some of the other scenes and plot stuff is almost carbon copy, the bit where you find out one of Frank's kids is gay was done the exact same way as it was in the original, and Frank wakes up in Canada instead of France, but you kind of make allowances for stuff like that, its not an exact copy, but it does invoke the original's feel and charm, while making it something completely all its own as well. I love when a show does that, its kind of like what The Office did in recent years, you know, before it got tired and became "how do we drive Dwight even more crazy this week" all the time.

The show is amazingly well cast, Joan Cusack finally getting a role she can actually show that she can act, she stars as Sheila, a love interest for Frank, replacing Allison Janney who played Sheila in the unaired version of the pilot, and Emmy Rossum, a young up and coming singer/actress as Fiona Gallagher I was abit leery when I found out Emmy had gotten the role over the likes of Ellen Page, Hayley Hasselhoff and that dead eyed girl who played Bella in Twilight, all of which are some great young talent, I was very leery of someone thats really only noted roles other then Mystic River were the 2004 Phantom of The Opera and Dragonball Evolution, but she plays a good Fiona, ironically one of her love interests is Justin Chatwin as Steve, who also played Goku opposite Emmy in Dragonball Evolution. The rest of cast seems pretty well too, hard to tell with all the Gallagher kids, but they'll grow into their own as the show goes on, just as the original cast did, and those around them as well.

So as I'm sure you're all wondering, do I think its worth giving Shameless a chance? Ofcourse I do, sure its a remake, and sure most of the time remakes don't work, but give this one a try, its not at all showing any sign of horrible watered down slug-ness, its actually, if anything showing how good a remake can be if its left to its own devices and allowed to become what its ment to be, not what a boardroom wants it to be. Plus its worth it to see William H. Macy drunk ans sweaing like a truck driver. Seriously you gotta check this out. .. Oh also, sorry for the lack of images, there really aren't many out there...

here is the trailer incase you missed it when I posted it awhile back, oh and don't worry, the swearing isn't bleeped in the show...



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Top Gear USA

And USA Remake Week Continues....

Top Gear USA:
Once Again, We Drop The Ball
On A Totally Simple Slam Dunk

I've always been a car fan, I mean like a big, crazy, rattles off performance stats in a tone so excited that I think everyone around me has a clue what I'm jibbering on about kind of car fan. It comes from all the car shows I went to as a kid, both my parents were car people, which means just like their loves of movies and tv and music, I'd ofcourse get their love of cars. Its that love of cars, and the ability to download tv shows over the internet, as well as the almost constant ordering to watch by those I know that live in the UK, that I found Top Gear, the longest running automotive show in the world, and really, the benchmark for anything automotive related on television. Its hip, its creative, its informative, and its pretty enjoyable to watch. But when you think of it, who wouldn't wanna watch a show about three goofballs doing insane crap with used cars and taking the fastest production car in the world out for a Sunday spin?

After many years of success in the UK, and a successful Australian version thats almost as fun to watch as the original and a Russian version that I've seen little of, but found pretty good for a show produced by bears on unicycles, fat smelly guys drunk off tader booze and whores, I found myself jumping for joy when word came out that we were finally getting a Top Gear spin off here in the states. They didn't tell us who would be hosting or what they'd be covering, but when you think of all the fun they can have with an endless supply of american cars at their fingertips, anything really was possible, it was just so exciting to speculate. Sadly though, what could have been every american car lovers dream, was infact, kind of the opposite.

What we got were three guys that looked and acted completely uncomfortable with each other and uncomfortable on camera, and are just lacking in most ways. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they need to be exactly like the originals, after all the Aussies are nothing at all like the UK team and I love them. Its just there seems to be no real connection or shared love between the american hosts, and they just look like a car crash on screen, and with out knowing anything at all about them, you honestly feel they're just three dicks in a circle jerk trying to half ass a horrible rehash of a great concept. here, lets get out the block quotes and break it down alittle shall we?

Tanner Foust is a former X Games Rally Racer and Drift Champion turned Stunt Driver, who's biggest claim to fame is that he was the lead stunt man in the Fast and The Furious films, as well as the main stunt driver for The General Lee in the movie version of The Dukes of Hazzard. He was the host of "Battle Of The Supercars" a show that was produced by the same crew that does Top Gear USA.

This guy is a little annoying prick of a man, he talks like he knows what he's on about, but he really doesn't. His only real shining moments were by sheer luck getting a chevy truck that was able to out last the worst year model of the Ford F-150 and the insanely horrible 1997 Dodge Ram, known for its insane issues and breaking down issues. Yeah thats great, you beat two junkpiles with a moderately well built Chevy truck, you know what we call that up here in New Hampshire, where the rare northern redneck runs wild? A SATURDAY AFTERNOON. Its hardly a feat honestly. Oh and he lost to some skiers using a Lancer Evo in some winter offroading. This guy is an X Games Rally champ, how in the hell does he lose in a Lancer Evo, a street legal rally car, to two douchebags in speed suits?

Adam Ferrara who is known to most as Cheif "Needles" Nelson on the series "Rescue Me", and his other major role of note was in the tour de force known as Paul Blart; Mall Cop. That and some stand up is all this guy's done, no seriously thats it, thats literally all there is.

Adam really doesn't do anything of any real note or notice on the show, he's just there, he stands with the other two and agrees with them or stands silently, its really almost painful to watch him at times. Its like they just slapped this guy in there because someone was all "hey we need a guy that looks dull and can speak car techy talk.." and they found this guy. Ugh.. just.. ugh.

Rutledge Wood is "a professional car enthusiast" who has done television and blog work for Speed Channel, where he mostly annoyed NASCAR drivers and fans by attempting to make it sound like there is alot of technical skill involved in taking left turn and going down a straightaway at 200mph in a non-car that looks exactly like every other non-car on the track. even though there are four companies out there making said cars.

I know I say this alot, but honestly, I HATE HATE HATE HATE Rutledge Wood, he tries to hard to be their Jeremy Clarkson, but he doesn't understand that Clarkson's deadpan serious delivery of brilliantly funny lines isn't something you can mimic, you have to truly believe the stuff you're saying, and not look like a fat idiot in a flannel shirt and thick glasses who mugs at the camera after every attempt at a one liner as if to say "please find me funny I have no real life skills". This is evident in the one time he attempted to do a Clarkson like intro to the segment with the american stig, or "AmeriStig" if you rather, as well as the time he actually called one of the other three "Captain Slow", it makes you wonder if he was just watching reruns and attempting to mimic and steal lines or something. Honestly, I wanna smack him most of the time. Also what is a "Professional Car Enthusiast" exactly? I love cars, have all of my life, and am a tall fat jackass with a beard, does that mean I could get paid to be just like Rutledge Wood and get paid to be a complete tosser on tv? if so, sign me up, I'll do laps around this guy. No, literally, he's that fat, you can do laps around him. Oh also he called Austin Martin "liars" because the DB8 or whatever doesn't go as fast as the speedometer goes up too. .. Moron.

Even AmeriStig annoys me honestly, I've been looking at the test track times from UK, Aussie, Russian and US shows, and AmeriStig is the slowest of them all! Sure the UK has had like 5 Stigs, but what the hell, he does not have one lap in any of the cars, and the one truck, under 1 minute 22 seconds, this shows that the show is either unable to, or unwilling for budget reasons, to get use of the higher end supercars that the three other versions are able to get to do their laps with. Its painful as all hell to watch, plus given how he seems to not really know what he's doing alot, I'm kind of wondering if AmeriStig is a NASCAR or maybe outlaw driver, which would kind of be another nail in the coffin for this jet crashing in slow motion with both of its engines lit up like a giant hippie at Burning Man of a show. And yes, you did read that right, AmeriStig took a Ford F-150 around the test track. No I am not kidding.

The cast isn't the only thing that annoys me, its the out and out lack of creativity in not only challenges, but in the cars they have on the show. of the 12 cars they took around the track, only 2 were american cars, the Dodge Viper and the Ford F-150. You would think that with an american show, you'd do atleast one attempt at a show about muscle cars right? Nope! Instead we get 9 shows and one best of that all feature the Lamborghini Gallardo and its various sub-versions. I mean seriously, they shoehorned this car into EVERY episode. And though most love the challenges, the show is still about the reviews and test drives, and well there really were so few of them, and though I love the Mustang Boss and the Morgan Aero SuperSports, it made me sad that they were really the only non-bias reviews done on the show, granted 90% of the show was taken up by re-doing a challenge from the UK series; playing tag with an attack chopper, ect. The whole thing really just feels off and completely unconnected. It just, doesn't work at all. like they gave away the respect and unbiased coverage to pander to the advertisement people.

But then, what do I know? lol American TV'll ruin something, but not know when it should call it a day on certain things...

This'll give you an idea of what I'm talking about...

Top Gear USA Clip #2: Lamborghini Comparison



Being Human (US Series)

Being Human (US Series):
Sam Huntington Is Still A Worthless Pile
And Other Watered Down Drivel Aimed At Twi-hards

As many of you long time readers know, I am a rather large fan of the British sci fi series "Being Human", its well written, well acted and cast, and is just the greatest sci fi series out there right now, well aside from Doctor Who ofcourse, but as long time readers and friends of mine will tell you, for me The Doctor is in a class all of his own and can't be counted among the teaming masses. Anyway, after spending two years in complete and utter nerdlust with the original, word comes out that recently renamed american network SyFy (ugh...) would, as its first original series under its new name and concept, remake the British series for american viewers, because, you know, SyFy'll be damned if BBC America makes that sweet sweet cash from all those fans of vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and whatever other things everyone in the world knows Stephenie Meyer created with the Twilight books and films.

I have to admit when I first heard word of this, I cringed, and then cried, honestly, we Americans can make a fine good show on our own, SyFy has afew rather good ones themselves infact; Warehouse 13, Eureka, ect. But when it comes to America remaking a series from another country, it just doesn't really work out all that well. Sure The Office was a hit and the Showtime version of Shameless (will be writing about this later this week) is showing alot of promise, as were some classic shows like All In The Family and Three's Company to name just two, but well, the diamonds are few and far between when you're standing in a pile of coal (A point I'll expand on later this week when I write about Top Gear USA, its kind of US Remake Week here!).

Its hard to really pin down exactly what is the worst thing about this show, because there are many things wrong honestly. The writing is completely rushed, they were trying to cram bits from atleast four episodes worth of the original series into one pilot episode, it felt confused and rushed and sort of sloppily put together, almost as if the writers have no idea at all what they were writing about or maybe even didn't care about it enough to make an attempt. The characters names are all completely different, and only have vague likeness to their counterparts, this problem spills into the extended cast as well, or in the case of one character completely made up, its confusing, offputting and just plain depressing.. here let me show you what I mean, here is the character list...

Sally Andrews (Meaghan Rath) is an insecure ghost who haunts the house she and her fiancé lived in while she was alive, and is unwilling to leave it. Sally appears in the clothes she was wearing when she died which change subtly depending on her state of mind. In the first episode, she is introduced as a very afraid ghost who doesn't trust herself to unlock the past with her ex-fiance.

This is their take on Annie Sawyer, and instead of making her anything at all like Annie, other then her cloths and that she haunts the house, they decided to go the whole 1991 movie Ghost route, you know, because they're completely out of ideas otherwise. Interestingly, they state that Sally has been living in the house with them for awhile before they actually see her, which makes no sense given that its explained afew minutes later that vampires, werewolves, ghosts and other supernaturals can see and sense each other. It was a giant plothole that makes me wonder if it wasn't a case of "oh wiat, we gotta put this in there.. its in the original.." and just shoehorning something in. Its still a glaringly annoying plothole that yells at you in a booming voice that echoes from the endless depths of hell itself.

Joshua "Josh" Radcliff (Sam Huntington) is a nerdy, paranoid hospital worker who suffers from being a werewolf every full moon. Once twilight comes around, he begins to act funny. In the first episode, it is revealed that he chose to leave his family because of his situation, having disappeared for 2 years. One night when his sister, Emily, having finally discovered him, followed him downstairs in the hospital, where she witnessed the secret he hid for such a long time and the reason why he left. Aidan and Sally were called and Josh asks them to help his sister get out before he fully transforms and kills her.

The fact that Josh is played by horrible waist of skin Sam Huntington, whom not only is a worthless person, but seems to be the kiss of death to both movies and television series he seems to be on, which probably won't work well for the series as it is. But more so then that, Josh is a horriblely flawed character, he lacks any of the charm and likeability of George Sands, the character he is supposed to be the american take on. He is devoid of real personality, Josh is nervous and worries and depressive, but thats it, there is no hint of the intelligence and geekness and more importantly, the actually looking kind of like a werewolf, George actually looks like he could be a werewolf, Josh just looks like the douchebag at the comic shop that just dropped $500 on Magic: The Gathering cards, even though no one's played that game for over 10 years, and you find yourself caring about him even less then you would a guy like that. Also, George never had a gay sister, I have a feeling they tossed her in instead of Nina because some idiot said a budget wouldn't allow for two werewolf transformations, the same reason I'm sure there won't be much Sally ghosty stuff.

Ian Daniel "Aidan" McCollin (Sam Witwer) is a quiet, calm vampire who is over 200 years old and presently works as a nurse in Boston. He is best friends with Josh, who always encourages him to live as a normal person. When he meets Rebbecca, a coworker, he is tempted to bite and drink her blood. He accidentally killed Rebecca, and did his best to cover up the event by calling a morgue run by a fellow vampire.

Apparently he's called Aidan as a send up to Aidan Turner, the man that plays John Mitchell in the original Being Human, however there is no explanation that his name is anything other then Aidan, he's simply just called it for some reason, and honestly unless you read the profiles or the wiki, you'd never have a clue that his name is actually Ian. You would also have no real idea that the show is now set in Boston if not for his profile as well. Aidan falls into the category of being just tossed together with no real idea what is going on with him. As I had feared, Aidan is complete and utter pandering to the twilight fans out there, with him looking like a mix of Robert Pattinson and professional wrestler Randy Orton, with a stare thats completely devoid of anything remotely close to emotion, or even anything hinting at cognitive thought. Its almost painful to watch him honestly. Especially when he's talking to the other vampires in these confusing shady conversations that really don't do anything but lead up to more confusion and WTF-ness.

The characters don't even really touch the tip of the iceberg of whats wrong with this show, its just so disjointed and confused and rushed, its a mess from start to end, even if there are some small glimmers of possible hope that shine through at times, it doesn't make up for the massive amount wrong. The premise has been changed, the idea is just so contorted and twisted and stretched from what its supposed to be that its almost just a vague afterthought. Its pretty depressing honestly given the premise that this show had. But sadly, it just did what many other shows in the same vain have done, fallen into the same pit as the rest. Truly depressing really.

Here is the promo trailer...



Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Fighter

The Fighter:
A Very Special Review For Me

I've been blessed enough to have been around film my whole life, what started as a continuing tradition of every Saturday and Sunday my grandfather, Uncle George and my father all taking me to the movies, and teaching me about how amazing cinema can be, to spending my teenage years making stop motion movies with my transformers and G.I Joes, truly believing I was the next Akira Kurosawa, James Whale, or Alfred Hitchcock, my teenage years is when I started to review films as well, and to this day, I've even been an extra in afew, mostly crowd scenes, because, well where are you gonna hide an almost 7 foot guy built like a train that can transform into a shuttle as well as transform into a robot? One of these such films was 2010's The Fighter, shot in my home town of Lowell Massachusetts, and filmed in the area of the city I was raised in. But thats not why I called this film a special review. I called it a special review because the film is about a friend of not only my mother, but my uncle Brian, and about two brothers whom I have met personally. So it kind of hits home alittle for me. So if you would all be so kind, please allow me to give you my review of a brilliant film, about two amazing people whom my family is proud to know.

The Fighter tells the story of Dicky Eklund and his half brother Micky Ward. Both strong working class irishmen from a working class irish family, and both talented boxers. The film follows Dick and Micky growing up, and how boxing is a traditional irish immigrant thing and how it instills pride in them and their families, all of that stuff. It continues to follow them as they grow, they follow Dicky's career as he raises in the boxing ranks, its rise, and his fall and addiction to Crack Cocaine, it even follows part of the documentary that Dicky was in back in the 1990s called "High On Crack Street" which follows his decent, the whole time, Micky is growing into a boxer in his own right, in the shadow of all thats going on with his older brother, and how it eventually brings Dicky back from the life of addiction. Its a story of family love overcoming all, and how two brothers can find the strength to overcome all just to be better people, and to make their family, and their city proud.

Having followed the production, and with family members knowing both Dick and Micky, I found myself happily seeing things I remember being told about, and even some of the people I know on screen, the film not only went out of its way to film in the city using real locations, but when possible used the real people, like Micky's trainer Mickey O'Keefe, who plays himself after Mark Wahlberg met him and convinced him that he could play himself because acting is just like his day job of being a police officer, where you have to think on your feet and show no fear in what you're doing. The film also doesn't go the easy route and glorify Dicky's years addicted to crack, nor does it really focus much on the documentary of which he's a part, even though he is the only one left alive from it, instead focusing on the story of the two brothers, and how they effect each other, which i feel is a better idea, sometimes how a person gets to a place in life isn't as important or interesting as how they find their way back. The film also lovingly puts the city of Lowell Mass. on display as well, if they needed to work on a certain street, they worked on that street, or used a house, or building, its almost like the city is a secondary character, highlighting most of the local plots of interest and note. Both Mickey and Dick made sure of this as they were consultants on the film who made sure they had final say on most things.

Their influence in the filming of their life story shows mostly in their casting as much as their locational detail. Mark Wahlberg , Christian Bale, and Amy Adams have all stated that the hardest part of their prep for the film was to spend months with the person they're playing so they could get everything about them exact, apparently the whole cast for the Ward/Eklund Family had to spend months with the family as a whole and separately learning just how to mimic them, their movements, their way of talking, all of it, to get the truest feel that you're watching a real family, instead of actors trying to be a family. Something I rather found innovative and different, and rather refreshing. But when your movie is really about a family, you would expect that. Atleast I would hope you would.

So now comes the big question, should you go and see it? Well ofcourse you should, its a brilliant film with a really good story, and for once a real happy ending, not a changed to make it seem happy ending, or some other thing or another. You truly feel like you're part of Dick and Micky's life, like you're watching it all fold out right there and you're in the film, its great. I found myself more drawn in, having heard stories about the two of them from my mom and my uncle Brian, though they grew up with Dick and remember Micky as a child, maybe that clouded my judgment a small amount, but I don't think so. I don't really see anyone that wouldn't enjoy this film, well unless all you want is boobs and explosions, then well, you're shit out of luck, but otherwise, by all means, take sometime and go see this film, you will enjoy it.

Before I give you the trailer, I'd like to take a second and give you another link, if you would like to see the documentary which real life Dicky was a part of, you can find it at the following link "High On Crack Street: Lost Lives In Lowell" (<- thats the link!) if you haven't seen it, you can watch it there for free.

Ok now, here is the trailer for The Fighter....



Black Swan

Black Swan:
Amazingly, Not A Blaxploitation Version Of Swan Lake
Even Though I Would Love To See That.

Every now and then there comes a film that catches me by surprise, what I would expect to be a boring, possibly well shot but nothing else, diatribe on something or another, turns out to be amazing, and it hits me in the head like a battery being tossed at a Boston Red Sox outside of Yankee Stadium. I went into The Black Swan expecting some overacted, over typed, trying way to hard to be visual and artistic pile of bovine excrement, but instead, what I got was a brilliant, chilling and haunting story that harkens back to one of the greatest thrillers of all time, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, just replace the children, with ballet, and you've got the basic idea of what this film is trying to be, and the story its trying to tell you, and though yes, we've all heard this story millions of times by now in millions of other films, somehow, maybe because it was shot and directed by the same guy that did The Wrestler, another film we've seen a million times over, but somehow could not stop raving about after we all saw it, there is just some magical enchanting charm to this film, maybe its the twisted darkness, maybe its the stunning beauty of the dance work, each person will tell you differently, and I gotta tell you, for a film, thats incredible, because it shows just how broad of a viewership it has, and just how amazing it is.

The film's plot is pretty simple on the surface but gets more complex when you look below the surface, centering around a lavish production of Swan Lake and the compition to replace a hurt lead dancer as both the White and Black Swan Queen in the production, and how it spirals from a simple choice of a troupe favorite whom everyone loves, into a complicated and complex mental game where a newcomver tries everything to take the role, even trying to become the very person she's up against. Its a brilliant and at times shocking look at just how far a dancer is willing to go for a starring role. Ofcourse not all dancers in the world are this way, but you get the idea, its like any other kind of story like this, regardless of the type of job the setting is. But don't let that take away from your enjoyment or viewing of the film, its really something to see. The dancing is first rate, the visuals are surreal and at times striking and moving, and ofcourse the acting is truly at times awe inspiring, its really no wonder this film is expected to clean up at the awards shows this February, it would be truly deserving of its awards and praise, a feat that is very rare these days.

What truly stuck me about this film, is, as I mentioned earlier when stating that its made by the same person that made The Wrestler, it doesn't really matter that I've seen this same story played out nearly 15 times in the last 20 years, i still find myself wanting more, and even though my logical mind is telling me what is going to happen, I still am shocked when I see it unfold. Thats truly a feat, to make me not care that I'm fully aware of whats going to happen, and love every second of it happening, its the sign of a good storyteller, you can tell the same story over and over, but its HOW you tell the story, that matters over the story that you tell. You could write a story about a little red car going beep beep beep as it drives merrily down the street to the airport to get its friend Jason who was on vacation, and thats great, but if you were to act out the story with like a transformer or a hotwheels car, that'd make it just awesome. The same concept applies here, sure we know the girl thats trying to steal the lead is gonna go insane, sure we know she's gonna try and replace the good girl we all want to be the Swan Queen, thats just what happens in movies like this, but that doesn't matter to us. We just care about how the story is told, and honestly, this one is told in such a brilliant and stunning way, that even if you didn't care for how it would unfold, you could be entertained by the visuals, and the dancing, some really amazing dancing. Even if it is Swan Lake.

So the big question, should you go to see it? Ofcourse you should! What self respecting fan of art house cinema wouldn't? You know, unless you aren't self respecting or a fan of art house cinema, then I guess you could go see Little Fockers, or Yogi Bear or some other horrible bomb or another instead, its your call. But if you're a lover of art films, or visually striking films, or believe there is far too little films about Ballerinas (both from argentina and the rest of the world), then you should give Black Swan a look, you won't forget or regret it.

Also for fun and giggles, here is the trailer...



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World:
The Ultimate In Geeksploitation

Its always been a staple of hollywood to make films aimed at certain cultures, anyone thats at all familiar with Grindhouse can think of atleast 15 cultures that were pandered too at any given time, and though the golden age of grindhouse is gone, its idea of making films aimed at certain groups remains, and is enough to list this film as modern grindhouse. If you haven't known Scott Pilgrim is aimed solely at the geeks of the world, much like the graphic novel series it was based on. Geeks, as a whole, or atleast in the way Scott Pilgrim crosses genres, have never really been pandered too, oh sure each group'll get their movies, but geekdom as a whole? Never been done, until now. And though its kind of risky waters to tread, I find that just like the graphic novels themselves, the film treads them fearlessly and effortlessly, and also adds a whole new level to it with its audio and visual that was not able to be done in drawn form. I will however admit, for all the good and incredible geekwank that this film is, if you aren't a fan of comic books, video games, anime, and indie music, then chances are you won't really like Scott Pilgrim all that much because you'll find it hard to follow and a tad on the insanely ludicrous side. But if you're all about one or all of those things, then by all means, you gotta see it.

The film tells the story of socially awkward Scott Pilgrim, a guy in his early 20s, living in Toronto Canada and playing in his band "Sex Bob-omb", a play on the term "sex bomb" and the super mario bros. creature Bob-Ombs, he lives in an a basement across the street from the house he grew up in, which he shares with a gay friend who often has random men over, at the start of the film Scott is dating a 15 year old asian catholic school girl named Knives Chou, as a means of getting over his last girlfriend, one who broke his heart when she left him for the drummer in her new band, which happens to have gone on to be come internationally famous. Things are ok, even if abit stressful and annoyingly problematic at times for Scott and his bands, his girlfriend is their official groupie, and they're all set to enter a battle of the bands that'll lead to a huge record contract for the band. This is when Scott meets a girl named Ramona Flowers, a girl he says he's been dreaming about for a long time, and thats when everything changes. Scott sets about meeting and trying to date Ramona, even if he's forgotten to tell Knives they were split before he did so.

Not long after Scott and Ramona begin their relationship, before he tells knives its over infact, Scott gets an email from a guy named Matthew Patel, declaring that they will soon meet and fight, for he and "The League Of Evil Ex's" who are a unified group of Ex's of one Ramona Flowers, who as you are now aware, is Scott's new girlfriend. Scott skims through the email and doesn't actually read it, and instead of knowing what is to come, he continues about his day and gets ready for the first round of the Toronto Battle Of The Bands. At the climax of the performance of Sex Bob-Omb, Mathew Patel, in true geek fantasy fashion, flies through the ceiling like a Dragonball Z villain and demands that he and Scott fight, after being furious that Scott didn't bother to read the email, and angry explaining that he looks like a pirate because pirates are in this year, the fight begins, and in true geek fashion, the fight becomes something out of Street Fighter, or some other fighting style video game. From this point on, the movie becomes sort of like you're watching the cinematic to a video game, where you get through each level, you fight an end boss, and Ramona gives you incite into who they are and possibly how to defeat them before each fight, and with small mini-cinematic scenes between each level, it really gets fun the farther it goes.

The film is built on the concept of following the pattern of a video game, each Ex is more powerful then the one before, and you must progress to them by completing s task or a level of some kind or another, each of the League Of Evil Ex's has their own way of fighting and their own special powers that range from mystics, speed, teleportation, veganism, sonic manipulation, and mind control. And yes, read that right, one of them's super power is being a vegan, simply because vegans are better then all of us. Scott has to fight them all, using various special powers that he gains to help him fight against each of the Ex's, on the way to the leader of the League, Gideon Graves, with the final battle taking place in a nightclub he's created called The Chaos Theater, with all the climaxes and sub-boss fights you would expect at the end of a video game where you need to punch and skullcrack your way to the end. Its a total out and out geekfest, and its brilliant because of it! Seriously, the reason I'm being so vague and not going into plot details it because it would be impossible to cram in all the geekish references and homages in this film, its just amazing beyond belief. But you expect that from something thats basically a 22 year old loser LARPing River City Ransom. (Anyone thats played River City Ransom will get the reason I referenced it by the second to last "boss fight" of the film lol)

I do think that maybe this film falls into the same pitfalls that other movies aimed at the geek culture and refuse to broaden their scope so that a larger audiance could be accepting, the simple fact that if you don't know what the references or homages are, you simply won't get the film. After all, if you don't know why all the guys Scott punches turn to coins, then how is that gonna be funny to you? Its that fact that I sadly think is why this film didn't do well at the box office, it disappeared alot faster then anyone had expected it too, and I do believe its because it just was too geek for those who are not of that culture. That doesn't make it a bad film by any means, it makes it a really good one infact, but it just doesn't make it something the masses are going to go and see, its kind of like how Shortbus wasn't really liked outside of the gay community, even though its an incredible film, or how alot of the movies aimed at hip hop culture don't really do well outside of that grouping either, it doesn't mean its bad because of the lack of cash it grossed, it just means it'll do better in the home market sales. And as anyone can tell you, thats what its doing at this point, already's number one selling blu ray of all time, and really raking in the cash in in store sales too. Sometimes thats just how a film works, infact if it wasn't for Micheal "I'm Awkward In Everything I Do" Cera starring in the film, it probably would have gone direct to DVD/Blu Ray in the first place where it would have become a giant cult hit, much like 2009's Black Dynamite, but again, such is the nature of the beast that is hollywood.

Now for the big question, do I think you should see this movie? Well, if you're a geek, are turned on by geeks, or know a geek, or wish to understand the nature of those that inhabit the shires, glens, grottoes, thickets and hollers of the Geek Forest, then by all means, get thee to thy shopkeep of choice and get a copy of the film, or you know, get thee to yonder red box or netflix and watch it that way too, you know whatever works for ye. You most assuredly won't regret it. But, if you're not a geek, have never read a comic book, or seen an anime, or never played a video game that was either a fighting game or a quest style video game, or even one of those ones with the dance pad, then avoid this film like the plague, because chances are, you probably won't really get it sadly. Though you might like the visuals, there is alot of visual goodness involved as well... so who knows?

anyway, here is the trailer...



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In Praise Of Ann Margret

In Praise Of Ann Margret:
Original Milfster

Long before there was ever an Angelina Jolie, or Megan Fox or whoever else who the basement dwelling nerds are photoshopping onto the bodies of porn actresses these days, there was a shining gem of hotness who even the dinosaurs were in awe of, I'm speaking ofcourse of Ann Margret. For ever 40 years this woman has been the definition of all american beauty, and still going... just amazing really.. as you can see here..

original cougar...

entertaining the troops with the uso in Vietnam..

All these younger think they're so hot actresses and singers should take some notes from Ann and her career, learn what its like to truly give as much to the fans as you get back from them. Respect for respect, love for love, thats how fame should work.. also, WTF go do a USO show once in awhile, and don't use the "its a warzone" bullshit, world war 2, 'Nam, all had A-Listers supporting the troops, whats all of your excuses?