Friday, February 28, 2014

Short Reviews - February 2014

"The Assets" - It just wasn't meant to be, apparently

Long Strange Trip or... - Yeah yeah, it's got a long title.  So what.  Well, with all due respect to the New York International Independent Film Festival, I've only watched the first ten minutes, and it definitely feels long, but not particularly strange.  Extremely self-involved is more like it!  The Grateful Dead will have to be buried anew, as it brings shame to their legacy to have this film named after it.

My Life - Well, what do you expect from a Zucker brothers production?  Frankly, they've let their core audience down by not making it more like Mad magazine.

My Life's in Turnaround - Bet these guys were still getting the semi-favourable reviews now that they got then... nah, probably just the chicks.  Bet they were still getting chicks, and casting aside uggos.  You know, what youth is all about.

The Graduate - I think I've blogged this already, but I'm having trouble finding it, and it was on TCM last night again, so permit me to reiterate.  It takes a special kind of guy to know in a Biblical sense a mother, and  later on her daughter.  I guess the daughter's rebelling or something.  If I even thought about falling in love like that, I'd be thrown in jail so fast.  So fast.

Rumor Has It... - Thank God this came out before the Adele song!

Jackie Brown - We saw the DVD last week or so.  Maybe the Blu-Ray will have a better transfer.  Was this filmed in 16mm or something?  As for the story, well, all this Fox News right-wing talk about "job creators" and the "haves" and "soon-to-haves" must be working on me, because this go-round Ordell Robbi seemed more sympathetic somehow.  I mean, what's a brutha gotta do to get his half mill outta Mexico?  Gawd dayamn!

Gravity - With Robert Forster as George Clooney

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? - Depends on how they define success.  I mean, Marilyn Monroe... that's success.

"Believe" - Now, where have I seen that father before?  ...ah HAH!!!!

Fair and Worm-er - Man!  I keep thinking about this one for some reason!

Pocketful of Miracles - With Glenn Ford as "Dave the Dude"

Bad Words - Boy, those South Park boys must be pissed off.  They've been all about bad words for years.  Now this Johnny-come-lately Jason Bateman comes along with this ONE MOVIE about bad words, and everyone's calling him a genius.  Where's the respect?  Where's peoples' sense of history?

Kool Ice Kold Soda (five films remain)

As though it were preordained somehow, it's time for the next Stooge short called ... Hot Ice?  Seriously?  Kind of a bland title.  They might've been better off with One Won or something.  But the editors of Stooge films are only human, and in the course of Hollywood events, having to mix old footage with new, even they grew tired of incorporating previous footage from just one Stooge short.  How about two this time?  Hence the extra bland title, apparently.  Now, I no longer feel I have the aptitude to do my usual over-exhaustive analysis of these things, so I'll do the opposite and keep it short.  Needles to say, I've developed a bit of an eye for these things, and you can kind of tell where the new footage is.  Here's the most obvious seam.  The two films in question, Crime on their Hands and Hot Scots were made in 1948, and Hot Ice was made in 1955, so about all one has to go on is the length of the bags under the Stooges' eyes.  In the new footage, obviously, the bags are longer and more filled with baggage.  Also, Stooge mainstay Kenneth MacDonald was called in for a couple reshoots so he can explain that, in addition to the Punjab diamond, they'll call the circus to collect ransom money for the gorilla they've kidnapped!  Thanks a lot for spoiling the surprise, Ken!  LOL.
Now, for those of you like me who were expecting the triumphant return of Herbert Evans as the Earl of Glenheather Castle, well... first of all, the dude sadly died in '52.  Anything to get out of doing another Stooge short.  And second, they only use footage from the setup of The Hot Scots with Inspector McCormick.  They cut out his best line, too!  "I say!  Most impressive!"  But they kept the knowing look to his assistant.  Editors can be god damned cruel most times.
And so, the heavy lifting is done by Crime on their Hands.  But it's a toss-up as to which is the better ending.  The gorilla with the British accent in Crime on their Hands?  Priceless.  The ending of Hot Ice where Moe takes over the surgery where Dapper Dan left off?  Goes on a bit too long.  Nevertheless, they picked a fine two to remake.  Good mashup.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

The Spinach Mutiny

Seriously, though, the image montage to the left is probably the best part about Mutiny Ain't Nice.  Alas, the Disney-ification of the Fleischer animation studio continues unabated.  Well, emulate the best, right?  They can't all be like Warner Bros., but I wonder if Disney today wishes it was.  What Disney would do with that Batman franchise... Anyway, here's the setup: Popeye's going on a gay cruise... I mean, he's headed out to sea.  Olive bids him farewell, then decides she wants to come along.  Popeye has to inform her that, on this particular ocean voyage, wimmin's is bad luck.  So she stays off the ship... or does she?  Screenwriters take note, because this is how it's done.  You set up your rules, then you break them.  In a clever way, if possible.  More true than ever these days.  Especially the fun of arbitrage.  Bad guys getting the good cops to do their bidding with a cell phone and a kidnapping, that's the stuff.  I guess a film like Mutiny Ain't Nice seems trivial by comparison.  In the grand scheme of things, you can safely skip over this one as you peruse the Popeye shorts.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Maureen Blackwood

For those in the know, that's Mo Blackwood to you!!!

Oscar the Statue

Well, as long as we're waxing nostalgic about the box office... Variety's thorough reporting mentioned last year's flop at this time, Jack the Giant Slayer... so he's a slayer who also happens to be giant?  I think audiences were confused... anyway, let's wind the clocks back to Oscar weekend 1997, where a little movie called Liar Liar came out.  I guess that would've been the year that Saul Zaentz's trophy cup overflowed.  And so, star of Liar Liar Jim Carrey got to present one of the Oscars that year.  Here's the joke he told: "How was your weekend?  Mine was good!"  See, Liar Liar opened with $30 million... something like that.  Not quite Ace Ventura 2 money, but still, not bad for a film that marked Carrey's and Shadyac's transition from Hollywood juveniles to Hollywood grown-ups.  No more of Ace Ventura 1 scrappy high-jinks, it's time to make a film you won't be too ashamed of to show on NBC prime time, what have you.  Let's say, 10% crude jokes, 90% sentimentality.  Percentages that Irving Thalberg would be happy with.
...drat!  You let me down again, IMDb charts.  I gotta go to Variety for my info fix.  And so, Liam Neeson does it again for Natasha with his latest Luc Besson-esque thriller called Non-Stop.  Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra... wow!  I typed that out right the first time!  Just double checked... they collaborated previously on 2011's Unknown.  At least the posters are slightly different.  Neeson's still clutching a gun, though.  Now I could sit here and talk about Flightplan and Red Eye and the whole Conde Nast subgenre, but... yawn.  It's Taken 3 we care about, right?
Meanwhile, it's onward Christian filmmakers with Son of God at #2, making more money in one weekend than all the films of the Kendricks combined.  Oh, s'z'nap!  They wanted to get Brad Pitt to play Jesus, but went with the younger, Portugal-born equivalent instead.  You know how it is.
Okay, time to renew my subscription to  Come back soon, IMDb Charts!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wham, Bam... Thank you, Slam! (6 films remain)

Another one I probably should recuse myself from, as it is indeed a childhood favourite, not to mention that it's a remake of 1948's Pardon My Backfire... I mean, Scotch... I mean, Clutch.  Here's a link to my extremely exhaustive review of Pardon My Clutch.  In it, I believe I favored the ending of WBS over Clutch, as it seems a bit more Stooge-y to me, and less shaggy dog-ish.  Besides!  Larry gets some shweet, shweet revenge on the other two... but he eventually screws that up.  What a Larry!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Next Popeye - Bulldozing the Bull

Ah, the bullfighting ring.  Is there any more reliable scenario for the animated cartoon?  Now it's Popeye's turn... again.  Take note, PETA, because Popeye takes a rare stand against cruelty to animals.  It's even more shocking because he's protesting bullfighting!  Probably in the land it was bourne in!  But when he sees Senorita Olive Oyl buying a ticket... well, all bets are off.  Never mind, PETA.
Boy, these plot developments are giving me whiplash!  Popeye finds himself in the toreador's box and, despite his sailor outfit, he's quickly whisked down to the arena proper, where he once again insists he's not going to be cruel to "no aminals."  Oh, I have a feeling he'll change his mind about that once the fighting begins proper.  Sigh; I miss Bluto.
Anyway, Popeye finds himself in peril, and it comes about in a rather strange roundabout sorta way: the bull ends up driving Popeye into the ground with a wooden plank to his back.  The bull keeps hitting the plank and bouncing back, and the plank hits Popeye on the head.  Rinse and repeat.  Just then, the audience starts throwing vegetables.  Senorita Olive decides to intervene, and the bull starts chasing her.  Fortunately for Popeye, someone throws a can of spinach close to him.  There's the matador outfit!
I hate to spoil the ending, but I think PETA will ultimately be satisfied, even if the crowd isn't... the crowd's applauding anyway!  Is this our entry into Bizarro-World as we've never known it?  Only the Fleischers know for sure.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Troy Beyer

Wait... didn't we do her already?  At least twice?

3000 Miles to Numberoneland

...nope, can't think of a theme for the week.  Unless you count the dubious parallels between Kevin Costner and the volcano Pompeii.  I mean, think about it!  Once dormant forces of nature exploding anew at the box office!  Although, as much as I hate to criticize, I'm guessing the volcano's performance is a little less wooden than Kevin's.  But none of that matters, really, because it's this damn Lego Movie that's still #1!  I wonder if this means that they're going to drop the price of actual Legos at all.  Probably not.  Reminds me of the time I was in line at Fred Meyer and some doofus was trying to get a 2-for-1 deal on the most expensive Lego set in the store.  Nice try, buddy.  Still about 10¢ per piece.  Nothing can change that, especially given its carbon footprint.  Why, it can only go up from here!
What else?  Everything's down, but I'm telling you!  This Frozen is almost over the $400 million mark!  Not bad for a rather generic sounding feature.  How?  How do they do it?  If I were involved in that production, I'd gently suggest to my agent to renegotiate whatever contracts I have.  Is it the wintry theme?  The sly jokes for the adults in the crowd?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sefton's Heroes

Well, I hate to agree with my beloved, dog-eared Maltin guide, but every once in a while they're right, and Stalag 17 is indeed the granddaddy of all WWII POW movies.  That Billy Wilder knows how to pick good projects, I tells ya!  Why, people are still watching and talking about most of them even today!  There are some campy aspects to it, but that helps to detract from the underlying grimness of it all.  And it's a bit educational, I dare say.  Hard to believe, but apparently the Germans in WWII actually had some prisoners of war rather than just killing them all outright.
At its core, Stalag 17 is a good old-fashioned mystery story.  Among this group of American sergeants, there's a rat telling the Germans every last detail about what the Americans are up to.  Is it the obvious choice of Seften, the Sergeant who's openly trading cigarettes with the Nazis for favors?  Or is it someone else?  Also, is that Lembeck guy the father of Michael Lembeck, director of films like Santa Clause 3?  Indeed!  Well, that's one mystery solved.  And while the story's based on a play, and most of the action takes place indoors, a few of the outdoor sequences reminded me of Schindler's List.  Oh, you gotta see this film if you want to be in the big leagues... you know, like the guys when they beat up Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stoogendorff's Tribe (7 films remain)

...oh, right.  Another bloody remake.  Apparently, Blunder Boys is the only one that's all new footage, only the Stooges didn't know it at the time.  They were keeping busy enough as it is.
Well, so far, so good!  Emil Sitka's Scrambled Brains glasses?  Check.  Larry doing the old "I got my eyes closed!" bit, even though he knows he'll be severely punished for it?  Check.  A comedy map for all of us to study carefully?  Check.  I often wonder what the audience in the theater sounded like when they left a map like this up on the screen for... what seems like several eternities.
Next scene: after signing the deal for cash for proof of genuine cavemen in 1955, the boys go camping, and Moe quickly suffers multiple head injuries, courtesy of the other two.  Lol.  When suddenly... a reason to stop clowning around!  Larry finds a footprint that might just have been made by a caveman!  Shemp gets the Bolex 16mm camera and starts shooting... hey!  I got a camera like that!  Kewl.  That's from the era when things were made to last.  Alas, the camera's outlasted the film that was once made for it.  And from there... a subtle fade to footage from I'm a Monkey's Uncle.  Doubly alas, the Stooges didn't have the ability to show themselves looking at their caveman selves, à la Back to the Future Part II.  Praise be to that French "à la"!!
And so, we dwell in the recycled footage that is I'm a Monkey's Uncle.  Well, a good joke that's recycled can still be good.  Take this one, for example: Moe asks Shemp "Did you take a bath?"  Shemp replies, "Why?  Is there one missing?"  Heh heh.  Ah, the ambiguities inherent in English grammar.  May they always be exploited for comedic gain.  Also, I know we're living in the Creepy Age where everything's creepy, but I still get a laugh out of Shemp and Larry making butter.  Better call the Creepy Police on my creepy ass!  I will allow this: what's creepy about that part is that Larry seems to be enjoying himself almost as much as Shemp!
Now, you might be asking yourself, but Movie Hooligan!  Where's Caveman Moe in the midst of all this?  Well, he engages in an epic battle with one, possibly two ducks.  Cannibal ducks who are eager for the taste of caveman thigh, but who fortunately don't possess a beak or teeth strong enough to cut it, or a stomach strong enough to digest it.  Anyway, on to the Third Act, where the three idiot cavemen move a little higher up the triangle known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  Here's my problem with this triangle: how can sex be in two places on this same triangle?  Doesn't make sense!  Anyway, having conquered the "Physiological" and "Safety" rungs of the proverbial ladder, it's time for them to get dolled up to go courting, as decreed by the "Love/Belonging" section of the pyramid scheme... I mean, triangle.  Fortunately, they cut this part of the film short, and go right to the pitching of woo between the Stooges and Aggie and her two sisters.  If I remember correctly, "Baggie" falls for Shemp.  "I'm Baggie!" says the homeliest of the sisters.  "You're telling me!" quips Shemp.  Poor put-upon Shemp, the Valentino of the Stooges.  Alas, this part is cut short, and we get right to the intrigue, where the other cavemen show up to protect their turf, so to speak.  Well, you gotta hand it to those Stooges.  They were the first true Americans: not afraid to waste food in battle!  They heave fish, eggs, and what I assume is giant wads of melted chocolate at their enemies.

EPILOGUE - Well, I hate to spoil the ending, 'cuz it's a good one.  But since we're close to the 60th Anniversary of this short, I guess it's past the statute of limitations.  As it turns out, it was all just a hoax!  See, the Stooges were born at night, it just wasn't last night.  And to think... they might've pulled it off if they just kept their mouths shut a little bit longer!  How Emil Sitka has been in charge of anyone's purse strings for so long, I'll never know.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

A Shaggy Jeep Story

Yeesh.  I think I used to like this one... maybe I wasn't in the mood for it today.  Of course, when you sit about watching all the Fleischer Popeye cartoons, they're put into a different perspective.  First of all, they have YET ANOTHER different person doing Olive's voice, and not as well, if I may offer my humble opinion without using JMHO... drat.  Second, I must be approaching parenting age because I'm getting more and more squeamish about danger to children, animated or otherwise.  I think this Jeep cartoon is worse because it's a situation that hits a little closer to home.  A child getting in trouble at a zoo or in a factory is a little more fanciful.  A child falling out of an apartment building window... not as fanciful.  Yet Swee'pea's got that very death wish here, and he or she's getting better at avoiding Olive's grasp.
And so, it's time to bring a fresh character to the Popeye celluloid family.  The Jeep is a "magical dorg" that can turn invisible, and answer simple yes/no questions using its bodily expressions.  Swee'Pea escapes his or her crib an unprecedented third time, and has gone missing.  And then... the bolt of lightning strikes.  Maybe the Jeep can help find Swee'pea!  SPOILER ALERT: much like The Sixth Sense, the cartoon gives its clue early in the hunt... have I given too much away?  Probably.  Alas, I retain these things too well and I don't usually have to see them a second time to see how the unrevealed familial relations color everything anew.  Anyway, I'm with Popeye.  The Jeep doesn't deserve that orchid!  The very idea.  It's worse than Wimpy!  Also, there's no 3D background here.  It could've used one, but I guess the filmmakers felt they should save the 3D backgrounds for a better cartoon or something.
...just checked the DVD, and ... whoa!  Why is the intro so warbly?  Good Lourdes!  At least the whole cartoon's not like that!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Ahmed Best

...the voice of Jar Jar Binks?  A director?  How is that possible?  Here's my question: why did it take so long?

Sexual Perversity at the Box Office

Ah, the 80s keep coming back to me in movie form, and like Larry Sanders' publicist, I can't stop wetting myself!  God bless you, VH1.  I don't know what Lawrence Sanders has to do with VH1, but keep up the good work.  And God bless the IMDb as well, because otherwise I would never have thought to look up what the original author of Endless Love thought of the new reboot.  Apparently, he's not happy.  Must be a dude.  He apparently told us to stick with the paperback.  But what about Father Hood?  Is it doomed to a lifetime of abandonment on that great big video store in the sky?  Probably.
Meanwhile, Kevin Hart's the busiest mofo in cinema right now.  If you can't see him in his concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain or in his latest, Grudge Match, or his other latest, Ride Along, you can see him in the About Last Night reboot!  And once this reboot's gone black, there's just no going back.  But that's the dilemma in Hollywood.  If you're a wicked black dude, you're either doing a Tyler Perry production, or you get stuck with David Mamet and John Cusack's best friend... you know, a genuine African American experience.
No, even though it's Valentine's Day, America's love affair with Legos is what's tops at the Box Office.  Labor Day?  Gone.  Vampire Academy?  Gone.  That Awkward Moment?  Going.  It's at that awkward place in the Top 10 where it's probably going to bid us adieu after that.  Let's see if Variety's still tracking the global top 2000, or whatever the hell they track...

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Curb Your Plagiarism

The Plagiers were a simple people, living on a steady diet of rice and old shoes.  And other people's books... okay, I just made that up.  And copied it from Horse Feathers.  Somehow that seems worse than plagiarism.  God bless Wikipedia!  Why, they even have a small section on self-plagiarism, which I think we can all agree that Mr. Konigsberg... I mean, Woody Allen, is surely guilty of.
Let's leave his 2014 legal woes aside for a minute.  Allen's 2010 project is called You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.  In it, we have ... I lost count.  I think it's three couples going through the usual pains of couplehood.  Or, in Annie Hall terms, each couple has a dead shark on their hands.  Anthony Hopkins plays a character named Alfie (what's it all about?) who divorces his wife of 40-odd years, Helena, and hooks up with a girl with grandfather issues named Charmaine.  We see Hopkins pop a Viagra pill at one point, and he has to tell Charmaine, his very very young new wife "Just five more minutes."  Sheesh.  I wonder how Viagra feels about that?
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, we focus a bit on Helena's daughter, Sally, who's married to Roy, an ex-doctor turned... wait for it... WRITER!  The marriage of Sally and Roy has hit turbulent waters after having begun with a very sweet "meet cute" and much smooth sailing after Roy's successful first novel.  Alas, the work of writer is harder to tolerate than Sally had hoped.  To make matters worse, in a Rear Window-esque situation, Roy spies across the courtyard a younger, prettier girl to inspire him.
The gears of this machine grind out over the course of about 98 minutes... hmm!  It seems neither Woody or the Coens want to attempt a movie much longer than 2 hours!  I might be mistaken about that, at least when it comes to Woody... and No Country for Old Men, yes I know.  122 minutes.  Don't email me.  Anyway, the wheels turn and the kettle comes to a boil at the end just before the puzzle pieces settle in a semi-fresh configuration.  SPOILER ALERT: Sally's prospects aren't as rosy as she thought, at least in terms of finding new love.  Helena ends up with a like-minded partner, while we leave Alfie holding his head in his hands in grief at the huge mistake he's made.  And despite the shouting match that he missed, Roy ends up with his new muse Dia, played by the lovely young Frieda Pinto.  Maybe not Scarlett Johansson lovely, but close enough.  Roy and Helena find new happiness, but doesn't Roy deserve a few dark clouds on his horizon?  What's Woody trying to tell us here?  Get the divorce and find someone new?  What about the whole "love without lust" dilemma he once grappled with in his movies?  Is Woody trying to tell us to screw love, and get all the lust we can while we still can, Viagra-aided or otherwise?  In a slight twist on Jack and Sally in Husbands and Wives, no one decides to get back together with their old partners.
Anyway, I did like the guy who played the occult bookstore owner.  What a whimsical fellow.  He kinda doesn't fit in this movie somehow.  As for the narrator, well, I'm assuming Woody didn't get the narrator of The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford.  That guy was pretty darn good.  Speaking of which, I've got an idea for Woody's 2015 pic!  Basically, it's a remake of Tall Dark Stranger, but the narration is taken from a nature documentary about gorillas!  You know, with Hopkins' character being the aging silverback chased out of the community by a younger alpha male gorilla on the make... that kinda crap.  A variation on What's Up, Tiger Lily?, if you will.  Like one of your earlier FUNNY movies, god damn it!... is that racist of me?  Probably, but at least I'm not getting into the sticky area of genetic "superiority."  Here, I'll balance it out thusly: what's the deal with American white supremacists?  They live in the forests of Idaho with sub-machine guns and no drivers' licenses.  You know, what superior people do.  And I don't see a lot of them on the cover of Vogue magazine, either.  Maybe the cover of American Toothless magazine, but that's about it.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Friday, February 07, 2014

What's Brewin', Llewyn?

All the critics seem to be universally praising Inside Llewyn Davis... and in this case, who am I to go against the tide?  For the Coens, it seems to mostly be about the little details: the grooves in the highway, the morning bowl of cereal, period phone books, narrow New York hallways, the whooshing sound when a door opens or closes, that groaning sound they have in all their movies... what is that, anyway?  A motorcycle?  Along with characters saying "The point is...", it's their signature, so to speak.  What "See You Next Wednesday" is to John Landis, what Spota is to Peter Hyams, what... lameness is to John Carpenter?  What not quite hitting it is to Brian DePalma?
Anyway, my viewing companions once again had to suffer through my need to see the Coens' latest and greatest, and we made the trek to the multiplex about 40 miles from home to do it.  We almost didn't make it in time due to the kludgy instructions provided by Yahoo! Maps.  Fortunately, there was about ten minutes of previews, so frankly we should've been a little more lost.  To cut to the chase, the initial assessment was that the main character is an unlikeable son of a bitch, and that the Coens have officially lost their minds.  That may have softened a bit now that the ordeal is over and done with, but who knows?
As for what I think, well, it's still nice to get out of the house now and then.  Second, at least the Coens are slightly removed from the 1970s, the permanent go-to era for nostalgia these days, and for the rest of forever.  But I will allow that even they have become infected with the spirit of Spielberg, in at least two ways: 1) by releasing their movie during the Christmas holiday, and 2) SPOILER ALERT, we see a young Bob Dylan at the Gaslight Café at the end of the movie, doing what Llewyn Davis is unable to do: ignite a generation to change the world.
Inside Llewyn Davis is arguably the least flamboyant of the Coens' movies.  Usually their movies have at least one visual setpiece you want to go to right away when it comes out on DVD.  Well, True Grit kinda doesn't have one either, but the closest that Davis comes to is probably the "Please Mr. Kennedy" sequence.  Mostly for the music, of course.
Alas, positive, life-affirming characters aren't the focus of Inside Llewyn Davis, but that's what movies are for: to take us to different times and places and to experience different characters.  Llewyn's clearly not a man for his time and place; perhaps he was an early incarnation of Richard Belzer, not quite ready to hit it big with his sardonic observations.  As for the Oscars, well, I think the Coens will have to time their 2017 project to be more Oscar-worthy than their usual if they want to sweep again, but this go-round, Bruno DelBonnel will probably win the same way Penelope Cruz won for a non-Almodovar film, and because the ASC really really want to rub it in Roger Deakins' face.  Or maybe he'll win for Prisoners, who knows!  Either way, I kinda don't care about the Oscars anymore.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

A Serious Woman

...who knows?  Maybe this will inspire me to write something.
...nope, still not happening.  I guess I'm conflicted, like Homer Simpson's car company-owning brother Powell, just before he punched Homer in the face.  On the one hand, Cate Blanchett is lovely and talented as always, and I agree with Rod Lurie that she should win yet another Oscar.  Why not, I say?  After all, this is a nomination for a lead role, not a supporting role, which she won for 2004's The Aviator.  It's the Kevin Kline story all over again.  Plus, it's Woody Allen going after Bernie Madoff for the sake of all his New York socialite friends!  Let's say he's the Peter Sarsgaard character in this movie, for lack of better insight.
On the other hand... boy, does Woody understand Italians!  Especially Italian-Americans!  Probably better than Lina Wertmuller does!  Especially the lower-class ones.  They tend to be good listeners... but they also ask a lot of nosy questions, don't they?  How rude!  Always wanting to know stuff.  And always demanding economic justice.  Don't they understand?  They're supposed to emulate the one percent, not... blame the one percent.  Something like that.  One of those douchebags was on the TV saying that.  Of course, the real one percent know better than to go on TV themselves.  That's more of a populist medium still, alas.
But I dare say Woody feels some sympathy for his female characters this go round.  Maybe not much, but some.  Take, for example, Blanchett's half-sister hooking up with sex-crazed Louis C.K.  "Aren't the slow dances better?" he asks the half-sister.  But really, the right answer is that you should really have a mix of slow dances and actual dancing.  As a character said in Slap Shot 1, "It can't be all about sex!  It can't!"  Alas, it's not the most memorable quote from that filthy, filthy movie.
But like Old Man River, Woody just keeps rolling, rolling along.  One movie a year for the rest of eternity.  He still seems obsessed with having a younger woman.  So much for love without lust.  Screw that.  Like his character in Bananas, he's on to Advanced Child Molesting, current legal woes aside.  Blanchett scolds husband Alec Baldwin about his adulterous ways, especially one particularly young girl.  "SHE'S A TEENAGER!  ARE YOU INSANE?!!!" she exasperatedly asks.  "I think we can make it work," says Baldwin with a straight face.  Where's his Oscar nod?  It takes two to tango!  Also, Woody's worried about the encroaching modern computer.  Fortunately, he'll never have to take computer courses.  He's a celebrity!  He can program the computer nerds to program the computers!  Incidentally, did you notice the opening shot of the airplane?  See, Woody?  Not all computerized things are an evil!  Except that shot, of course.  You should've done it practically.  Just borrow one of James Cameron's stupid helicopter cameras or something.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Guys who live in glass man-caves ought not to throw stones, dude...

Well, you gotta hand it to Tom Cruise.  This time he's picked a project that's not exactly mainstream: a slick-looking sci-fi indie.  I hate to discuss the plot, or the holes in it, as that's part of the fun... it is still fun, isn't it?  But I am getting to the point where I don't have to watch these a second time to go "Oh!  So he's the actual father!"  There is one key assumption up front that's the proverbial lynchpin of the whole mystery, and if you buy that, you'll buy the whole premise.  Okay, at least two.  And as I hinted at earlier, kudos to the production design and the design of the various spaceships involved in Oblivion.  Clearly these people will go on to design actual spaceships for the likes of Elon Gold... I mean, Elon Musk.  I always confuse those two!
But really, I do have some complaints, and I'll focus on just two of them.  First of all, the bottom's fallen out of the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movie market.  Second, the big, brief, Mametian summary of a few instructions about how to live life.  Most movies have them nowadays, but Oblivion has one geared for the couples out there.  Specifically, there's a line about growing old and fat together... hmm!  Now where have I heard that one before?  Oh, right!  STEPHEN COLBERT, THAT'S WHERE!!!!  I can't remember which show, of course, but maybe the crack Colbert staff can jump all over that!  Do a "Who's Riding My Coat-Tails" segment that doesn't seem to be that popular.  You're overdoing the T-Dubs, that's all I'm saying.  And where's the "On Notice" board?  Is fusilli pasta still on it?  I don't know who's keeping track!
Ooh!  Just remembered another one.  You know that old movie cliché where Bad Guy A has got a gun on Good Guy B?  And then... a shot rings out!  But Good Guy B's not shot!  Bad Guy A is... by Good Guy's Backup C just in the background.  They've also had it on Person of Interest at least once that I can recall.  It's used here in Oblivion which, for me, was unintentionally hilarious, seeing as how Bad Guy A in that instance was a bad-ass drone.  They're not usually able to be taken out in a single shot, but for the sake of this cliché, it is.  Great plot device!  Sorry... SPOILER ALERT.  Hopefully, this won't ruin the movie for you, but I figure there's so much action that you hopefully won't see it coming.
Now, I hate to be so shallow, but Tom Cruise has just turned 50 recently with no signs of slowing down... but once you turn 60, you might consider taking the occasional father role once in a while... a normal, non-action father role.  Then again, Kirk Douglas did do that movie, Saturn 3.  Apparently, Farrah Fawcett had some grandfather issues to work through.  In space, no one can hear you apply Gold Bond medicated powder.  I better quit while I'm ahead...

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Shemp'n Can Wait (8 films remain)

Our next Stooge short is a remake of Heavenly Daze, according to Wikipedia.  I wonder if the Stooges ever took footage from two of their shorts and combined them into a new, third short.  Guess not; it just seems like it somehow.  But they always manage to include some fresh footage, and Bedlam in Paradise is no different.  They include a truly horrible gag where Shemp ends up chewing and swallowing a whole wall thermometer.  Sure, it didn't really happen, and sure, a person of Shemp's age or any age probably couldn't swallow a wall thermometer that quickly, but that's the magic of movies.  Moe instructs Larry to rub Shemp's stomach.  "Maybe he'll regurgitate the broken glass!" Moe helpfully offers.  It doesn't help.  Soon enough, Shemp officially kicks the bucket, and the other two remaining Stooges helpfully get the bed a little closer to Earth by breaking it with their combined weights.  Shemp rises to Heaven, and we join Heavenly Daze already in progress.
While Shemp waits for the heavenly wheels of bureaucracy to turn, Shemp spies a beautiful blonde angel and gets what can politely be described as a wing-boner... why, I did that previously with my review of Heavenly Daze!  My own great mind thinks alike!  He's apparently a blood and not a meat.
Anyway, I'll hand it to the Stooges.  They always tried to make an effort in these remakes.  Take, for example, the theological implications of the scene with Shemp and "Uncle Mortimer" in heaven.  Unlike in Heavenly Daze, they've got more time to kill in heaven.  A devil (Philip van Zandt) and his very attractive assistant show up to lure Shemp to Hell.  Shemp apparently won't need his own asbestos suit!  Oh, 1955 Sylvia Lewis... will you marry me?
And so, with a rather lot of coaxing from Uncle Mortimer, Shemp makes his train back to Earth to reform Moe and Larry so Shemp can get into heaven.  The actual reforming, however, seems to consist of Shemp just getting to act like Moe, and slapping the two of them around a lot.  But Moe and Larry catch on rather quick that Shemp is "haunting" them from beyond the grave!  But these proceedings needs a third act, and Moe and Larry attempt to engage in white collar crime.  I like to think there's punishment for that in heavenly courts, as our earthly ones seem to look the other way, to say the least.  With the addition of Philip van Zandt as the devil, Bedlam in Paradise makes a little more sense than Heavenly Daze.  Except for the ending.  Was the thermometer-swallowing part of the dream?  Does Moe and Larry cut Shemp no slack for that when Shemp awakens from his dream?  He had internal hemorrhaging, for Christ's sake!  No, they have to hit him in the face with a pie, and force him to write a letter under whipped cream... you'll have to see the film to understand why.


-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

A Plumbing Popeye Will Go!

Our next Popeye cartoon is called Plumbing is a 'Pipe'.  Somehow, I think Wikipedia's got the inside scoop on the play on words that that title represents.  To cut rather quickly to the chase, seeing as how Bluto's out of the picture for new voice casting, we must rely on forces of nature to fill the rather large void that Bluto left behind.  This time, something's going wrong with Olive's pipes... that's the first time Groucho's used that joke in twenty years!  Anyway, Olive calls Wimpy the Plumber to check it out.  He becomes the film's recurring joke, which I just hate to spoil.  Meanwhile, Popeye tries to fix the problem himself.  He does about as well as the Stooges do, possibly better.  Alas, Olive's paid for deluxe water service in the midst of the Great Depression, and deluxe water she gets flowing through her house in no time.  At some point, about a minute and some change before the film ends, Popeye's had enough of a beating from the water.  Time for some spinach!  Popeye kicks the water's ass, and manages to fix the pipes.  Olive is grateful and Popeye starts to sing the ending theme... until Wimpy interrupts!  I think that's a first.  Wimpy gets hit with a stream of water in his hamburger-consuming face, and Popeye finishes the song while getting inundated anew with streams of water.  I guess water's more powerful than spinach!  Spinach is apparently still no substitute for engineering school, as pretty much everything Popeye builds gets ruined... except for the bridge in Bridge Ahoy!  Federal money was involved in that.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - S. Torriano Berry

...oh, he must be brothers with the other Berry guy.  That's showbiz for ya!
...okay, maybe not.  Whatev'z.

The CGI Lego Movie

...Oh Lord, why don't you like my brackets?  How about if I go like... >THIS!!<  
Nope, it just turns into "&gt" and "&lt".  Must be XML involved.  Nice try, but you're still not working for the state.  
Anywho, I hate to get political, but every once in a while something comes along that really gets under my skin, like that horrible tropical skin disease I've only heard about once that apparently is so horrible because it mimics the alien from the first Alien movie.  I'm talking about Rand Paul going after Bill Clinton, who's trying to, you know, remind people about that whole Monica Lewinsky thing.  Well, apparently he's too young to remember, but the Republican-controlled congress tried their damnedest to do something about it, and they spent a lot of OUR FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS to thoroughly collect the evidence, and present a compelling case to themselves to attempt an impeachment.  If I remember correctly, they were able to censure the president, and that's as far as it went.  Somehow, it just made Clinton more popular!  And even worse, it indirectly gave us Mark Sanford and David Vitter, and a couple others.  So if Rand Paul's unable to let bygones be bygones after fifteen odd years, I totally understand.  But I will not stand idly by while he criticizes the job that his fellow Republicans did prosecuting the president's naughtiness.  Is he implying that the private sector would've done a better job of convicting the president?  Is there not one Republican willing to come forward and defend the job they did?  Kenneth Starr?  Newt Gingrich?  Are they going to let Rand Paul get away with this?  Just because he's the only viable Republican presidential hopeful for 2016?  Where's the pride, guys?  Where's the human emotion?  Are you not individuals in addition to being a single-minded entity?  If you're a bunch of pricks, do you not bleed?
Okay, enough soapbox.  Back to the box office.  If I were still interested enough in predicting these things, I just might have predicted that The Lego Movie would be #1 at the box office.  As a longtime Lego user myself, however, I'm kind of turned off by the whole idea for some reason.  I mean, it's all done with computers!  Where's the Art Clokey spirit when you need it?  A movie like the Lego movie needs a backstory like the story behind Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer video!  It took 20 years to make this movie in an airplane hangar in Alabama!  Five hundred animators sweating away over twenty different sets, having to have bricks imported from all over the world because of shortages!  That kinda crap, but no.  For the director, it was just something fun to do in between Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs sequels.  A lifelong dream, yeah sure.  But even in Lego land, the myth of the Chosen One still exists, and the purdy girl along for the ride to inflate his ego to the point of achieving greatness.  I'll wait for the Blu-Ray so I can watch the Lego version of The Lego Movie, along with the Lego version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Lego Star Wars and Lego Boxing Helena.
Meanwhile, at #2, it's George Clooney's new movie, The Monuments Men.  I hate to wax political a second time in the same blog post, but I think I know what Peggy Noonan thinks about The Monuments Men.  She doesn't have a problem with George Clooney doing a WWII movie, it's just that she doesn't want Clooney to think he won the war single-handedly.  Something like that.  Great insights, Peg!  Oh, and at #7, it's the latest non-Twilight movie about vampires.  Good scripts are just so hard to come by.  But the story I'm interested in for some reason is that damn Frozen movie.  It's really hanging in there!  At #4, twelve weeks on the charts, very near the 400 million dollar mark.  What could that movie possibly have that keeps the audiences coming back?  Subliminal nudity?  PG-13 rated outtakes during the credits?  And did you know that the snowman actually looks like the actor doing the voice?  That's something new under the sun, isn't it?