Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Short Reviews - October 2013

There's an irony there somewhere...

The Counselor - ...Uncle Hank?

Need for Speed - ...Pinkman?

Only Lovers Left Alive - Wow.  Even Jim Jarmusch is jumping on the vampire bandwagon.  It better be INDIE vampires, damn it!

Ender's Game - Just found out it's based on a bestselling book... now available at Safeway!  But I guess if you've got a name like Ender, sooner or later you're also bound to have a game.  An endgame, if you're really shooting to be iconic!

Django Unchained - Is it just me, or is there a rather lot of screaming in pain in Tarantino's movies?

About Time - Has Richard Curtis run out of cute titles?

Cabaret - Maybe it's just me, but I think Liza Minelli is to Cabaret what Holly Golightly was to Breakfast at Tiffany's

Casino - ...on YouTube?  For FREE?!!!!

Love Jones - ...on YouTube?  For FREE?!!!!

Original Gangstas - ...on YouTube?  For FREE?!!!

Maximum Overdrive - ...on YouTube?  For FREE?!!!!

The Legend of 1900 - ...on YouTube?  For FREE?!!!!

Raising Helen - ...on YouTube?  For FREE?!!!!  ...actually, that one I can understand.

Don't Poke until you see the Whites of their Eyes... in 3D!

Well, the Stooges tried to keep current on all the latest Hollywood fads, but they didn't stick with all of them.  They only did two shorts in 3D.  Now, Spooks I can understand... but Pardon my Backfire?  In retrospect, the daily goings-on at a car mechanic hardly seems like the stuff of 3D... and the Stooges must've thought so too!
But back to the instant case.  After retiring from the force with a nice pension in Tricky Dicks, they just can't quit the detective business.  It gets in the blood, and stays there, like strep or herpes.  But it's a hard business and a detective needs to get a lot of sleep.
In comes their latest case: a missing persons job.  It's a young lady, and she must be a young starlet on the make, because the photo of her looks like one that casting agents would normally look at.  Shemp says "That girl has a beautiful pair of eyes!"  Filthy old devil!  ...hey!  The hyperlinks are back!!!
Hmm... this plot seems familiar.  I know, I know, it's a little late to be thinking that.  But ... SPOILER ALERT... the ending does seem familiar.  The Stooges conquer their enemies with pies, and then the Stooges get pies thrown in their faces by a guy in a gorilla suit... I mean, an actual gorilla.  Not all the 3D effects are done to maximum effect here.  The pies, for instance.  They're thrown just past the camera too quickly to register.  But there's still one facet of Spooks! that makes it worth watching: the Shemp Bat!  "What a hideous, monstrous face!" says Shemp of the Shemp Bat, and Shemp quickly covers his own face.  Philip van Zandt's terrific as always as yet another evil scientist.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Bluto Durham

Ah, the sports-themed cartoon.  Is there any more reliable genre?  It's baseball season again for Popeye, and Popeye's Pirates are playing Bluto's Bulls.  And this time, Bluto's found a girl that's more his body type as opposed to the rail-thin Olive.  I think this is a first!  As you can see, Olive and Bluto's gal aren't getting along.
As with the previous Popeye called Hospitaliky, higher powers are monkeying with the rules of the spinach.  It's foreshadowed big time when Popeye starts to take to the field but forgets his spinach in his locker.  Then, he drops the can of spinach in front of Bluto.  Bluto eats the spinach himself and refills the can with "some weeds" next to the pitcher's mound.  Ah, the days before Astroturf.
Well, I don't have time to do my usual exhaustive play-by-play, but I'll hit some of the highlights.  The first time Popeye's up at bat, he mightily strikes out, causing tears to flow out of Olive's Pac-Man-shaped eyes.  Is this the end of Popeye as we know it?  Will it be Bluto eating the spinach on a regular basis?  Will the armies of darkness march all over the face of the Earth?  We'll just have to wait and see.
The score at one point: Bluto 21, Popeye 0.  Popeye tries the spinach, but it's Bluto's grass clippings in disguise and it just doesn't work.  Oh, and Popeye's got a team as well... but not for long!  Bluto hits the ball and the ball goes to each of Popeye's teammates and gives them a concussion.  Popeye is saved for last, of course.  Bluto stands there and laughs.  Having just knocked out the catcher, Bluto's reign of anarchy on the field begins.  Will no one stop this madman drunk with power?
Popeye's about as out as can be, but he's got one last trick up his sleeve... a packet of spinach seeds!  LOL.  Popeye quickly grows some spinach and gets back in the game... eerie.  We just saw The Illusionist last night!  Remember?  The orange tree... ah, skip it.  And so, Popeye wins the game at the last minute as can only be done in a cartoon... but with a twist.  Popeye gets to 22 points, literally with the help of Bluto turning into a number 2 on the scoreboard!!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Troy B(e)yer Bailey

Oh, puh-leeeeeeze... No, no, she's quite good, actually.  And maybe she's proof of equality in Hollywood.  I mean, there's white folks out there who've made a movie as bad as B.A.P.S., am I right?  She didn't direct that one, however, but she did direct 1998's Let's Talk About Sex.  One of the things that is talked about is the idea that someday women can just walk around topless.  And I don't think they meant France.  I think they meant the good ol' US of A.  Of course, if they caught me staring, they'd quickly yell "Pervert!"  It seems like a good idea in theory, but I think most reasonable women understand that it's just not a good idea.  I barely think topless men is a good idea, and not just because I don't look good topless.
But ultimately you gotta hand it to Troy for enduring as long as she has, and she looks fabulous at almost 50!  As of this writing, it's a year and five days away.  I should get her a present!

Box Office ENDGAME

Damn.  Already squandered that hour I gained.  And it seems to have delayed the box office totals as well.  Gotta wait some more...............
(9:32pm) I KNEW I forgot something!  Well, go figure.  The ad campaign worked, and the young people are down with the latest fanboy phenom called Ender's Game.  One of the Armed Forces likes this book, or so I read on the movie's IMDb Trivia page.  And I like the book, too!  At least, as long as it doesn't lead to compulsory service.  Well, that's a young man's game, anyway, which I'm far too old for anyway.  I've been lucky, anyway, as no one's taken an interest in my dirt farm yet.
Well, enough discussion of Ender's Game.  Let's move on.  I get kind of a creepy church-y vibe from it anyway.  I have a feeling Harrison Ford's going to renegotiate his Star Wars and Indiana Jones 5 contracts!  At #3 comes the Adam Sandler comedy not starring Adam Sandler called Last Vegas.  Sandler will be doing films like this in about 20 to 30 years.  He can't fight it forever.  And last but not least it's Angry Birds: The Motion Picture... I'm sorry, it's actually called Free as a Bird, based on that new Beatles song... my God!  Has it been almost 15 years now?  I must be having a lot of fun, because time's sure flying... EIGHTEEN YEARS!!!!  Boy, that was fast.  Where was I?  Oh, right.  The movie's called Free Birds and... yup, another Pixar clone.  Its director is a guy named Jimmy Hayward.  Apparently he's in a big rush to be the next John Lasseter, but he's trying to do an end run around Pixar University to do it.  He's an old-fashioned schizophrenic auteur on the make.  His last pic was the critically beat up Jonah Hex, which was live action, incidentally.  Dude!  Make up your mind!  Oh right... that's what a true auteur does.  180 degree shifts in paradigms.  Take Kubrick, for example!  Going from 2001 to Clockwork Orange.  Now that's a big paradigm shift!  At least as far as the MPAA's concerned.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Vive La Cécile de France!

Sure, I could be cynical about Hereafter and say that screenwriter Peter Morgan's straying out of his Tony Blair-based comfort zone, that Cécile de France's character is much like Kristin Scott Thomas' character in The Horse Whisperer, that the movie wants to be Slacker but the interlapping stories get tied up a little too neatly... that maybe Clint's too old to be directing movies like this.  Oh snap!  Seriously, though, how much of that was shot with him on set or location?  I'm just saying it could be stressful at 80 years old, going from Frisco to London to Paris like that.
That being said, there's a couple big scenes here, mostly involving the young kid.  You'll know them when you see them.  And like my viewing companion, I did like Matt Damon's character, a psychic who's reluctant to get a reality show, unlike some.  And as much as I like Jay Mohr, would it have killed him to do his Christopher Walken impression?  Cowbell 2016!
Alas, I'm a bit more cynical about the transformative power of love, but Damon's character certainly deserves to find some happiness.  Stranger things have happened.  Also, the movie takes a conservative attitude about the public's perception of psychics, erring on the side that says psychics are a fringe group on the margins, ridiculed, hated, what have you.  But who knows?  Maybe we have the next wave of civil rights on our hands yet.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Next Stooge: Tricky... Richards

Now, it's around this point that, with the untimely passing of Shemp, the Stooges begin phoning it in, but just before that they produced some of the best of the Stooge shorts.  Tricky Dicks is one of those shorts.  So sayeth me!
Now, normally the Stooges are just wannabe detectives taking up the slack from the real cops, but this time they're the real cops.  And sure, the non-Stooge gags are corny, and sure, they cribbed some of the file cabinet footage from previous shorts, but even the most jaded of hipsters can detect that the Stooges are aware of the clichés of these run-of-the-mill detective stories, and play them up for all they're worth.
I feel compelled to point out two character actors that passed through the rolling Stooge stock company: Benny Rubin and Phil Arnold, because they also play crucial parts in the upcoming Pardon My Backfire.  Spoiler Alert: Arnold's character was claiming to be the perpetrator of a high-profile murder in order to get in show business.  If I may be so bold, he might be better off sticking with Broadway, if you know what I mean... sorry, that was over the line.
That being said, I do have some plot point quibbles.  First of all, these things need a little oomph to juice up the dramatic tension.  In this case, the Stooges have 24 hours to solve a murder to take the heat off their boss.  The unsolved murder?  Of a guy named "Slug" McGurk.  Where's the heat coming from, exactly?  The mob?  Local politicians that care about the murder of a gangster?  Who knows, maybe it's the name of a priest.  Now, the Tricky Dicks "Goofs" page on the IMDb makes the point about the guy with the infinite clip in a six shooter.  We'll leave out for now that Shemp gets shot four times at point blank range in the stomach... and survives.  It's all for the end gag, folks.  Here's my goof that I'll add to that page someday... when the Stooge's boss, B.A. Baracas... I mean, Copper... hits the table ONE TIME, he gets hit with poker cards and chips THREE times.  I mean, c'mon, guys!  A little consistency here!
Yeah, the more I think about it, the less stars I want to give this.  So time to stop thinking.  A four-star classic.  Like Justin Bieber, lemme tell ya one time: this Stooge film's got everything a Stooge fan needs!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Next Popeye: Hospitaliky... seriously? That's the title?

...I guess I should probably say a little bit more.  Also, it's not one of the ones I usually watch.  It's a simple setup really: Olive is a nurse at an actual hospital this time, and not at the "Bruiser Boys" club.  Bluto starts pretending to be sick... you know, so Olive will be his nurse.  Popeye tries as well.  HOWEVER, Olive wasn't born yesterday.  She was born at night, but not last night.  Don't spit in her soup and say it's raining, basically!  She declares that the hospital is for people who are genuinely sick.  And so, off the two boys go into the animated world, much like Homer when he kept chanting to himself "Must... hurt... self..."  I believe it was in the episode right after the Halloween episode with Homer ^ 3 in it.  Somebody else confirm that for me, will you?
We follow Bluto and Popeye on their separate adventures.  Popeye ends up in a plane!  Bluto has a genuine accident on a motorcycle.  The ambulance comes and... well, you can probably guess what happens.  I sure hate to spoil it.  They eventually meet at the train tracks and fight over who will get hit by the oncoming train.  Sure, the Fleischers seem to have lifted some of the cels from the very first Popeye the Sailor cartoon called Betty Boop Presents Popeye the Sailor, but they did finally complete the part with the train going past, rather than Popeye punching it into submission.  Somebody busted their ass on that, lemme tell ya!
And then, the genius part... again, I hate to spoil it, but this cartoon is approaching its 80th birthday, so why not.  Normally, Popeye would eat his spinach and beat the s...snot out of Bluto, but he remembered that Olive is not a damsel in distress this time... so he feeds Bluto the spinach!  And so, for once, the tables are turned.  And as you can see from the expression on Bluto's face, even Bluto can't believe what's happening.  And sure enough, next scene: Popeye's in bed in a full body cast, being lovingly looked at by Nurse Olive.  The architecture of that hospital's a little weird, though, as an angry Bluto's right there, within reaching distance of Popeye, angrily looking on and wishing he was in a full body cast in a hospital bed.  Popeye toots his pipe twice, then sticks his tongue out at Bluto, saying "Nyaah!"  Brilliance!  Brilliance... I used the wrong word to begin this.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Stafford U. Bailey

Life gets in the way, which is especially true for our next auteur, Stafford U. Bailey.  What's a fella supposed to do?  He's strictly a documentary man; there's always worse parameters to stay within out there.  Okay, so he's less prolific than, say, Terrence Malick.  Now, some of you haters out there might say that an episode of "HBO: First Look" is barely a documentary, but credit where credit's due.  He's staying true to his subject matter!  I better just leave it at that.

Naughty boys!

Gravity four weeks in a row?  I haven't seen anything like it since Home Alone was #1 for TWELVE weeks!  Oh right... there's Titanic.  Point is, there's 52 weeks, but never 52 different films at #1!  Also, it's a little early.  Guess I just can't wait!
(Sunday)  Actually, when you get right down to it, there probably are a lot of bad grandpas out there, but Johnny Knoxville in makeup is funnier.  Is it just that he has a knack for picking the good projects?  I mean, couldn't Bam or that fat guy have done this just as well?  No, because Knoxville is to the Jackass group what Graham Chapman was to Python: the leading man.  And once again, they've targeted the right audience to make Bad Grandpa #1 at the box office this weekend.  Who could it be?  The young douchebags who still watch MTV?  Somehow The Counselor just didn't click with them, debuting at #4, despite the wall-to-wall ad campaigns, and despite the celluloid reunion of Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz.
On the other end of the top 10, 12 Years a Slave comes in at #8 with 3 million at the box office, and you know what that means!  Oscar nominations galore come three to four months from now.  Speaking of which, it's a season of one-timers.  I mean, more specifically ,Pulling Strings, Machete Kills and The Fifth Estate were only on the Top 10 for one week, and now they're gone.  But Enough Said is a virtual success story!  Not that Julia Louis-Dreyfus needs it, of course.  It's been hanging around for four weeks now.  Now, I'm probably the only one putting this one forward, but here goes anyway... Oscar nom for Gandolfini?  Sure, it's really the Oscar he should've gotten for... let's say Surviving Christmas.  But isn't it the thought that counts?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quentin Tarantino's Perversions of History, or Death Cap for Q.T.

If I were a more intellectual writer, I would begin this by saying something like "The present continues to creep into the past."  The trend overall seemed to start most distinctly and expensively with 1999's Wild Wild West, which Django Unchained seems to pay indirect homage to throughout, and rather directly so with one of Jamie Foxx's outfits towards the end of the show.  And of course, the yearning for last generation's studio logos continues.  Superbad, Argo... the list goes on and on.
My two viewing companions had some criticisms.  One of them said it's not Quentin's best work.  I guess Pulp Fiction still is for them, and for me as well.  The other focused on the replica of Queen Nefertiti in the Candie household, which wasn't discovered until 1912 in Egypt.  (See also the IMDb Goofs page for Django)  But I'm sure Quentin could argue the consistency on that one.  Otherwise, the production design is top drawer, and certainly looks like there's $100 million worth of it on screen.
Now, as much as I hate to argue with the geniuses over at The Onion, my viewing companion parted company with them about Quentin's brief role as an Australian mining company employee.  My viewing companion felt that the contemporary music was a far greater distraction than Quentin's performance.  And to be fair, it's a less meaty role than, say, his role in Pulp Fiction.
Now, maybe I'm mistaken, but I noticed two things my own self.  1) Just as there are shouting matches in Spike Lee's movies, people seem to scream in pain a lot in Quentin's movies, and 2) the 'n' word.  I'm not sure if they used it too much or not enough.  Somehow it just didn't seem like the just right amount.  And how about those people who complain annually about the 'n' word in Mark Twain's works?  Whatever happened to 'sticks and stones will break my bones'?  Or, for that matter, the phrase "you've got too much time on your hands"?  In the Internet Age, it's not enough sleep.
Okay, here's a moment: SPOILER ALERT.  The big phrenology scene.  Here's my problem with it.  It was obviously geared for contemporary audiences since it leads to an explosive confrontation.  If it were really the late 1850s, the skull would have been sawed open long ago and used for "educational" purposes, at least by the standards of the time.  And the white people would probably talk slow to the black people; you know, just to rub it in that much further.  But I was actually more impressed with the research on Dumas.   Anything that gets me to go to Wikipedia is a small triumph.  Sure, we could quibble about fractions: half-black, quarter-black, whatever.  It's the impact of the moment that counts!
In any event, I look forward to the end of the Tarantino-Waltz trilogy in 2015... he's not going to be in Kill Bill Vol. 3, is he??!!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Loose Loot Riles Stooges

I don't even have to watch this one!  Ah, what a classic, this young sapling bourne from the mother log that was Hold That Lion.  As the filmmakers inherently knew, the setup was just too good to use only once.  The lion stuff, however, was getting tiresome even by the Stooges' own low standards.  But Columbia was shooting a film that week about the antics backstage at a big Vaudeville theater.  In those days it took a lot longer for once thriving institutions to wither away, you see.
But I digress once again.  This is a blog, for God's sake!  Focus!  The point being that I and my viewing companions in our carefree youth made the most of our adolescence, including a proverbial Summer of Love that was spent watching the fruit-hurling sequence of Loose Loot.  Shemp seemed like a god back then, even at his advanced age.
Ah, but all was not happy in that fateful dressing room.  Take the Passion of the Moe, for example, when he gets lodged between the mattress and the front door with the giant head-sized hole in it.  Trial by fist, to say the least!  Okay, I'll recuse myself from this classic.  But did you ever notice how they only cover up a small part of the newspaper with their story?  The rest is unrelated!  I mean, they released the Ambrose Rose Estate, despite the fact that there's nine dead and 200 wounded?  Check, please!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Spinach Study #3

Hmm, that's odd!  There's a couple Stooge films like this one... that is, like our next Popeye short called My Artistical Temperature... get it?  It's a play on "temperament."  Look it up on if you don't believe me!... Actually, better sidestep that page altogether.
Anyway, as with all Popeye cartoons good and lousy, Wikipedia's got all the dirt on all of them, including the instant case.  They rightly point out that versions have been edited for TV to purge the awful racist joke in it, and they point out what's pointed out at the very beginning during the Paramount logo, that there's patented processes at work in the animation.  That's what I have a problem with, because half of the fun of these things is the parts in "3D."  Unless it's the slight zoom at the beginning, I DIDN'T SEE IT!  There's no 3D in this one!  WTF!  What a ripoff.  I demand a parital refund.
As for the plot, well... as Seinfeld once said to Elaine and Putty that they're the only two people in New York for each other, apparently such is the case with Baking Soda Popeye and Vinegar Bluto.  I mean, neither one of them thought it would be a bad idea to open an art studio together?  No second thoughts about that decision?  And what about the people who approved this merger?  Are THEY not to blame a little bit?  Don't they know the disastrous track record?  And how close to 100% disaster it is?  No input from the police or emergency crews that have to clean up mess after mess after mess?
And so, once again, Olive throws a little gas on the fire that's already raging between Popeye and Bluto.  And as much as I hate to cut this short, not only does Popeye kick Bluto's ass and ruin all his paintings, he proves once and for all that sculpture is better than paintings, although a few of my genius painter artist type friends might disagree with that.
...okay, I took a closer look at the DVD of this one.  Apparently, that very first scene is a 3D background!  Unusual, because they usually only move the backgrounds left to right.  They dare to dolly into it a little bit!  What could've been...

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Orlando Bagwell

Well, you've come a long way from Repo Man, I'll give you that!

Gravity... man's oldest, most silent nemesis

Looks like Christmas is coming early to the Clooney Italian villa!  Who's going to get pranked this year?  Silvio Berlusconi?  The new Pope?  An unprecedented third week at #1 for Gravity!  This'll give Clooney's career a much needed refreshing, and for Sandra Bullock as well, of course.  Me myself, I'm not big on Bullock's back catalog.  Meanwhile, Stallone's cranking out movie after movie before Expendables 3 hits theaters.  In his latest, he and Schwarzenegger star in something called Escape Plan.  I like to think of it as a sequel to Lock Up.  Is it any good?  I've never seen it.  The last debut this week is The Fifth Estate.  Shame, seeing as how they advertised the hell out of it on TV.  If only there were some website where they could promote it!  Hmm...  This is decidedly less sexual fare than director Bill Condom usually does.  And his next looks even worse!  Old Sherlock Holmes?  I thought Robert Downey was already playing that... oh, s'z'nap!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

All hail the Rainmaker

There's a crucial scene in Looper when... ah, skip it.  Seriously, though, I did want to like Looper, being sort of a fan of the time-travel genre, which is what movies are all about, when you get right down to it.  I mean, when you watch a Laurel and Hardy flick, are you not time-travelling back to the '30s with its comedy hats and its comedy exploding cars?
And so, let's time travel back to 2012, when Joseph Gordon-Levitt made four movies that year, one of which was Looper.  Alas, it was a small tree trying to grab at the leftover sunlight getting sucked up by the larger trees like Hotel Transylvania and Taken 2.  So, if all the critics loved it so much, why couldn't it take hold with the public?
...okay, so I'm not alone.  There's a few lost souls out there still willing to bash a Bruce Willis movie these days.  And to be fair, I see what writer director Rian Johnson is trying to do.  He also directed a few episodes of Breaking Bad, so he's set for life.  We've got nice CGI prosthetics for Joseph Gordon Levitt, we've got a film that looks like a damn film, and not some cheap thing shot on a (high-end) video camera, we've got a nice ode to motherhood this side of Quentin Tarantino, and not since Country Strong have I seen the older generation bitch-slap the younger generation so hard.
And so, that being said, there's the negatives.  As I mentioned earlier, I'm a fan of the time-travel genre.  That's why it pains me so to have to point to Timecop for logical consistency.  As bad as it is, it seems to be the only movie that has laid down the following crucial rule: if you touch your other self from another stream of time, you both get destroyed... and rather grossly at that!  (re: the Ron Silver character)  Of course, Back to the Future II kinda violates that rule... no, I take that back.  Marty told Marty Jr. to stay down and shut up in the crucial café scene.  Still, that was technically ball-breaking back then.
So, while I can't critique JGL's prosthetics, I am getting a little tired of the horizontal stripes that bright lights cause in films like this.  They're distracting, guys!  Kubrick and the Coens know that.  And while it's clearly a man's ode to motherhood, at least the writer-director doesn't have JGL or Bruce say something inane like "My Goddess, my Valkyrie."  Sheesh.
Anyway, there's a crucial scene where old Joe and young Joe are sitting in a café.  The Onion's critic pointed out that this movie is cool because... spoiler alert... the last hour of it is spent essentially on one farm.  Well, for the most part, the whole film seems to be stuck in Iowa... or Kansas.  I forgot the title card that said "Kansas 2044" already.  What major metropolis is that near, anyway?  Chicago?  At least they take that one vacation to Hong Kong, or wherever the hell Joe goes to grow up to become Bruce Willis.  Anyway, back to the café, where the waitress who kinda likes young Joe doesn't realize that the older guy he's sitting with is older Joe.  Older Joe tries to teach young Joe a thing or two about the future.  Maybe this is the genius of the script or something, but I couldn't help but not be impressed by the lack of depth in the lessons that old Joe tries to part to young Joe.  Young Joe himself was similarly skeptical, so it must be the genius.
And so, Looper is a brilliant piece of work, but it's also kind of derivative as well.  Take, for example, Looper's IMDb page.  Look under the section that says "People who liked this also liked..."  Notice how X-Men is in there?  If you watch Looper, you might figure out why.  Kinda like how Hancock is basically Superman, but more downbeat and with a slightly different backstory.  But I did like the look of the near future.  The music of the near future?  Classic blues, of course.
I should probably mention Emily Blunt.  I think she only had one fragment of a line where her English accent shone through, but otherwise she's the real deal.  Can playing the lead in the Katy Perry story be far behind? ;)

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Friday, October 11, 2013

Next Stooge: Booty and the Beast (non-porn version)

Long before Michael Mann was the king of the one-word-title working man's heist picture, there was the following Stooge short called Booty and the Beast, a play on their previous short called Hold That Lion!  Mostly because most of the second and third acts are cribbed from Lion!, including post-stroke Curly with his full head of hair.  Ah, nostalgia.
Now, most of the time, the Stooges are working with prop tools that they hit each other about the and with, but when it comes to electric power tools, even the Stooges sometimes have to work with the real deal Holyfield.  Such is the case here.  Larry plugs in a big-ass drill and prepares to drill open a safe.  Moe grabs onto the giant bit and Larry pulls the trigger.  It looks like Moe lightly hurts his hand, but not enough that he wusses out and yells "Cut!" and asks for first aid like some kind of wussy.  Tis neither the showbiz way nor the Stooge way, I say!  Not that I would know, of course.
I should probably mention the plot.  Kenneth MacDonald is at his smarmy best as a man trying to break into a house.  Our three Stooges are driving in a car which breaks down right in front of the house.  They run up to MacDonald and ask to use his phone.  See, they don't realize that he's trying to break in, and not the actual owner of the house.  Actually, it's kind of lucky for MacDonald that the Stooges are so gullible, as his explanations for the rather blatantly suspicious things he's doing are a tad lazy at best and criminally lazy at worst.
And so, as ordained by their newfound puppet master, the Stooges let the fox into the henhouse, and help him drill open a circular wall safe and blow it up.  The Stooges get lightly knocked out by the explosion, MacDonald makes off with the loot, and the Stooges incapacitate security guard Vernon Dent before embarking on their latest search for quick movie justice.  Hmm!  That light fixture that knocks out Vernon Dent looks awfully familiar.  In fact, this whole first act seems vaguely familiar; maybe I've just seen it already... I hope.
And so, we get a lightly reworked Hold That Lion.  The second half of Hold That Lion had to be reworked to remove all traces of the name Ichabod Slipp.  However, in our next Stooge short, Loose Loot, we'll be relying on the first half of Hold That Lion, and the name Ichabod Slipp will make its triumphant return!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Bluto's Ear for Musickal Appreshkiashun

Once again, the filmmakers grow weary of the same old opening music when the title of Popeye's latest short is on display.  This time, they give us a preview of the sad accordion music to come after the credits.  And sure enough, there's musician J. Wellington Wimpy grinding away, with his pet monkey to collect tips from an appreciative audience.  (just Olive and Popeye so far).  And get this, Health Department: it's also the monkey's job to feed Wimpy hamburgers!  As we learned from Bridge Ahoy!, Wimpy just can't do a heck of a lot of work without consuming some beef.  You know, like Anthony Bourdain and pork.  What's up with that, anyway?  His trip to Israel must've been pure hell for that reason alone.
Of course, it's not a Popeye cartoon if Bluto's not there raising some hell.  And sure enough, he's appearing at the window of his apartment, and yells at Wimpy to get the hell out of there... not in those words, of course.  The monkey doesn't pick up on Bluto's vibe, unfortunately, and asks him for a coin all the same.  Devious Bluto's got a plan, though: he does technically give Wimpy a coin, but he heats it up with a match first.  The monkey goes ape, scaring a normally unflappable Wimpy, then jumping into the building's rain barrel to cool off.
Alas, this isn't enough for the enraged Bluto, and he redoubles his efforts to get rid of Wimpy.  Popeye comes down to ground level and tries to get Wimpy to stay.  Bluto also comes down to ground level and starts punching at Popeye.  Popeye dodges Bluto's fist, but pulls Wimpy into its path.  The cycle repeats several times, but it breaks when Bluto tells Wimpy to "G-G-G-Go!"  Can you guess how Popeye reacts to that?
Pretty soon, it's tag-team butt kicking against Bluto.  Even Olive gets into the act and breaks a giant vase over Bluto's head.  And then the spinach.  By the end, to cut to the chase, Bluto finds himself passed out and lodged into a piano, and hooked up to a crank, of course.  Popeye's turning the crank, and the busted piano is now belting out a tune.  Popeye, Olive, the monkey, and Wimpy are all there, happily singing away.  Bluto should probably move out of that apartment, to say the least.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Pierre Bagley

Sorry, I don't have the list in front of me.  I hate to say it, but I am the Movie Hooligan so I guess I better... I can't tell if Pierre is a man or a woman!  At least, not from their photo on the IMDb.  But apparently it's a guy, and it might be the same guy embroiled in this Steve Vaught business that I just read about on Wikipedia.  Well, if the guy's just trying to lose weight, I feel your pain, brother.  I'm down to that mean nasty last 40 pounds myself.  But if the guy's trying to be the next Subway Jared, well... ah, this Vaught guy sounds like a primadonna anyway.
Alas, I guess Bagley's not that interesting.  Sorry, going to get back to them.  But as I learned a long time ago, the world of the documentary is for the birds, and Bagley's trying to get into the feature film game.  2013 saw the finishing and possible releasing of From the Rough, the latest entry in the hotter-than-hot PG-rated sports docudrama.  Well, working with Agent Carter's half the battle.  If they offer you a chance to direct an episode of Person of Interest... take it!  Take it, take it, TAKE IT!!!!!

Schindler's Slave

Sorry, going for the attention grabbing headlines again.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, even Obama himself must be getting tired of how he's affecting the culture.  For example, they wanted to make 12 Years a Slave eight years ago, but somehow they couldn't sell the idea.  But even more curious than that... and I don't want to sound like a JFK assassination nut here, but the golden anniversary of that tragic event is fast approaching, and Paul Giamatti was recently seen on The Daily Show flogging his new movie Parkland.  He also happens to have a part in 12 Years a Slave along with Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt, who are also in a little movie called The Counselor together!  As far as I know, Giamatti's not in The Counselor.  He's pretty cool, but not that cool.
Anyway, this week's performers.  Gravity is still on top at #1, followed by Tom Hanks' debut, Captain Phillips... or the sequel to Volunteers, as I prefer to think of it.  Also, Machete Kills does way better than the original, but the third installment's probably going to happen nonetheless.  Let's see, Lindsay Lohan was in the first, Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen in the second... who's the latest and greatest super-burned-out mega-train wreck of a celebrity that they can put in the third?  Suggestions?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

There Will Be Durante

Well, for those of you who think Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo represents the lowest of the lows in Stooge films, here's a slight step back up the slope!  It's called Up in Daisy's Penthouse, and I hope you're looking forward to it.  Me myself, I think I can probably take it or leave it for some reason.  Let's find out why!

...oh, I was thinking of Gypped in the Penthouse.  Never mind.  Wow!  What a week!  Popeye AND the Stooges end up hanging from flagpoles.  They're not sick but they're not well, no doubt about it.  Anyway, Shemp gets to stretch his acting chops in this remake of 3 Dumb Clucks, where Curly got the  same opportunity.  This time, Shemp plays himself and his father, a rich oil man, who's trading in his old wife for a new, younger wife.  It's the Anna Nicole Smith story all over again, but with a twist.  The Daisy in question is plotting with two hoodlums to have the rich oil man killed after the wedding's made official.  Boy, those were the days, or something.  I thought it was the rich oil man who has people killed!  Must be a middle-class oil man.
Now, maybe it's just me, but it sounded like Moe's heart wasn't in it when he first gets out of bed and says "C'mon, boys, we gotta stop this wedding!"  But I must give a shout out to my Stooge-aholic friend who likes the funny sound effect at about 14:26 when Shemp goes sliding up the staircase bannister.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Safeky Last

I seem to recall that pattern from geometry class.  Anyway, our next Popeye cartoon is called The Paneless Window Washer... I still don't get it.  And once again the IMDb has let me down.  No one's done the "Connections" tab for this one!  I'm pretty sure Popeye shows a bit of this to Wimpy in Customers Wanted.... nope, just Let's Get Movin' and The Twisker Pitcher.  Small world, because there's a bit from Let's Get Movin' that gets recycled here, when Popeye finds himself taking the stairs faster than 10 feet per second squared so he can punch a falling Bluto before Bluto jellies up the sidewalk.
Anyway, the plot.  Business is slow for Bluto as a window washer, so he takes the mud on the street and puts it onto the windows of the skyscraper across the street.  No one's around to see him, so it's the perfect economic crime.  Using his fireman's training from The Two Alarm Fire, he's able to get the mud onto many windows with a hose.  So far, Bluto's plan is working fine until he runs afoul of Olive, Public Stenographer, who's hired Popeye to wash the windows.  Let the next pissing match begin!
I'm loathe to call this one a classic, as it has a lot of Bluto choking Olive.  Also, no stereoscopic 3D background.  A lot of good mumbling in this one, though, and chewing sounds when Popeye engulfs his trusty spinach.  Three stars it is then.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Kwyn Bader

Born in 1969, Kwyn struck it big with 1999's Loving Jezebel... and that was it!  Well, maybe he finally found a Jezebel who's unattached, got married, raised a family, and is now teaching film someplace back East.  In the Internet Age, there are still some things that are better left alone... HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think I'll try defying gravity... and you won't bring me down

Boy!  Some things are harder to find on the internet than others.  I didn't realize that that song they play at the gym over and over was from the TV show the mortals call Glee.  Well, I'll have a more respectful attitude towards this comedy show from now on, I promise.  Anyway, George Clooney does it again in one of the seven plots: cowboy, astronaut,... what's the other five?  Seriously, though, is this some elaborate prank on Sandra Bullock?  Can't push her into a swimming pool now, that's for sure!  What about her cell phones?  Meanwhile, at the other end of the Top 10, Enough Said rises from lower than 10th place.  And it's been out for three weeks?  Tony Soprano's not happy about this!  Li'l bit.  Where's all the loyal fans now?  Hmm??  Or do we not like Elaine so much, is that it?  She may have broken the Seinfeld curse on TV, but movies is still another domain, apparently.  Poor thing.  Poor rich thing.  Speaking of which, Justin Timberlake's latest movie, Runner Runner, debuts at #3.  Where's all his loyal fans now?  Hmm??  Are they so busy that they can't go to his latest movie?  He's got another one in December, you know!  Oh wait... that's a Coen brothers thing.  That's chopped liver!  Phooey.
And last but not least, the other debut is something called Pulling Strings.  Well, I don't go to church, so I didn't hear about this one.