Monday, June 30, 2014

Short Reviews - July 2014

Runner Runner - Stinker stinker!

Creed - I guess Carl Weathers wanted too much money.

Bullet to the Head - Well, what do you expect from the same director of the first 48 Hrs.? (movie, not CBS news show)

Eureka - with Gene Hackman as Josef Sommer

Broken City - It's like L.A. Confidential, but with more alpha-male paranoia... I mean, it's Marky Mark's mostest awesomest role yet! ... Hey, look!  He's in the new Transformers movie!  More awesome yet!

Lady Gangster - Oh, I love her!  Can't read my, can't read my, poker face...

Wish I Was Here - Well, that's one way to put asses in seats.  The power of suggestion.  And a couple of movie stars... well, one movie star, anywho.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune - Oh, wouldn't it be Wibberley

I.Q. - I only saw a few highlights, and more specifically the scene where Einsten's old genius pals help Tim Robbins spell out that equation using props and hand gestures.  When Richard Curtis saw this scene, he said to himself "Damn!  Wish I thought of that... wait, I think I did!  I've got an Einstein-based comedy in the pile somewhere.  Rowan would be perfect for the part."

Lust For Life - With Anthony Quinn as Lust

"Sam & Cat" - Like you, I don't know anything about this show... just that it was cancelled.  Two broke girls, indeed!

And once again, we have another list.  This list is eight movies that shouldn't be rated PG.  Boy, there's just no pleasing some people.  Either the 'R' rating is too restrictive, or 'PG' is not restrictive enough.  You know, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was rated 'G' once upon a time.  It's hardly The Sound of Music, and that has gratuitous shots of Nazis in it!  Of course, this list is mostly Spielberg's fault, as Poltergeist, JawsGremlins, and no less a film than Raiders of the Lost Ark is on it.  Well, what about Temple of Doom?  A guy gets his heart pulled out of his God damn chest, for God's sake!  And it's PG!  Even the Hollywood phonies on the DVD commentary of Dreamscape knows something's amiss... and I believe they got to use the dreaded 'F' word three times in that one!  Anyway, on to the rest of the list.

Watership Down - Hardly Disney fare, sure, but I think it's successful because it's in the 'A' section of your children's school library, personally.  That's why I read it!

Wizards - ... I think this is a Ralph Bakshi film.  Better use his name as the search criterion on IMDb.  Something as general as 'Wizards' and you won't be able to find it.  Well, first of all, this is payola in reverse.  The whole list is a blatant '70s and '80s flashback.  I thought for sure that Adam Sandler would complain about Jack and Jill.  We should all be thanking him in the first place for attempting PG fare to begin with, of course; as Letterman might say, we all owe him "a million damn dollars."  But I guess he was going for a 'G'.  After all, Rob Schneider wasn't in it!  Let's hope and pray that those two crazy kids kiss and make up.  And second... why are you watching any Ralph Bakshi film with your kids to begin with?  If you're doing that, the MPAA rating system is probably the last thing on your mind.  Personally, I don't think Cool World deserves that PG-13 rating it has.  As much of a fan as I am of the cinema, there's one rule I try never to violate: never ever pass your audience through the alimentary canal of an animated gorilla.  It's just rude.

Mommie Dearest - Yeah, we know, we know, the "no wire hangers" scene.  Isn't it time our culture move on to a different scene from that movie as the go-to scene?  Well, if you want to expose your kids to that, I say live and let live.  Frankly, why are you showing your kids movies in the first place?  Long and boring!  Derr!  Let them get on the Blackberry superhighway with the rest of their douchey friends they'll never stay in touch with after graduating from school.  But if you insist on proving to them that, hey, you're damn decent parents compared to Joan Crawford, why not.

Beetlejuice - That's PG?  Well, Jon Peters and his goober friend were very persuasive.  Well, you gotta hand it to them.  One 'f' bomb, crotch grabbing, a blue woman exposing her slit wrists, and some of the liveliest rotting flesh you'll ever see in a comedy about the afterlife... Tim Burton, baby!  He's doing something right!  Frankly, it's just an honor to be added to one of these B.S. lists in the first place.

Lucy - Good double bill with Under the Skin

The Fluffy Movie - I saw an ad for this at the gym, on their special channel.  Is that ironic?  Maybe just lightly so?

Before there was Itchy and Scratchy.....

Well, the Stooge shorts are coming to an end soon, so I guess I should wean myself onto a new feature.  Somehow I ended up with the 2-disc DVD of Tom and Jerry, so I might as well do that, no?  That'll eat up some time, right?
Anyway, the first is one called The Yankee Doodle Mouse, and the Tom and Jerry shorts are the only ones I know of that brag about being Oscar winners like this.  Well, maybe Disney did it too.  I wouldn't know, and I don't want to violate any Disney copyrights by reviewing their shorts.  I don't want to take the chance.
But back to the instant case.  We start off innocently enough with the cat chasing the mouse.  The mouse runs into the basement where, well, to put it mildly, he seems more prepared than Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone to extract vengeance upon the cat... or is that exact?  They also shoot a lot of fireworks at each other.  Kids: do not play with fireworks the way these two do.
At one point, the fireworks follow the mouse around, much like the pool balls in Cueball Cat.  Ooh!  That's coming up later.  That's the good news.  The bad news: it's about 24 weeks away.  Anyhow, I don't know what makes this so Oscar-worthy; perhaps the parallels between the cat and Hitler, perhaps the pacing of the action.  One of the calmer moments is when... SPOILER ALERT... the giant firecracker burns down, and it turns out to be some kind of Russian nesting firecracker.  It loses its outer shell when the outer shell breaks into two halves.  It makes an interesting sound when it drops.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ecoterrorism by Calvin Klein

SPOILERS AHEAD.  What's with Scott Free these days, anyway?  First, The A-Team movie, now this.  I guess they're making money, which is the main thing, of course.
Anyways, you can guess where this is going.  While I admire the spirit of The East and what not, there's just something nagging at me about the execution of it.  The plot: SPOILER ALERT... it's like a couple other movies, probably... Fight Club, Arlington Road, what have you.  Anyway, there's a group of eco-terrorist kids targeting certain companies that are polluting the earth.  As usual, it's not quite all that it seems to be.  Like John Grisham's Runaway Jury, the kids are doing it for personal reasons as well.  Also, they're only attacking corporations where they actually know somebody.  Otherwise, I suppose it's a little tricky to get into their private parties.
The first attack: a pharmaceutical company, because the doctor of the eco-terrorist group was affected by a drug made by the company.  I'd use the name of the company, but for two reasons: 1) I can't remember, and 2) meh.  And so, they spike the champagne with the drug and, unlike Erin Brockovich, nobody's spitting it back out.  One of the big chiefs, played by Julia Ormond, goes on TV after the prank goes public and says she's okay.  A little bit later, after the drug's taken hold, she goes on TV again, from a hospital bed, sans makeup, talking about how horrible she feels about the whole thing.  As much as we'd all like to see this happen more often, I don't believe she would go on TV like that.  I think her stake in the company's still too great... but that's just me.  The only time I can think of something like that happening was when Lee Atwater went public with his cancer treatments.  Now you're probably thinking, but Movie Hooligan!  The Republican Party's not a corporation... well, aren't they?
And on and on it goes.  Again, I wanted to like the movie, but after a while the photogenic-ness of the eco-terrorist group sorta got to me.  Even the token fat chick could be the next Emme!  The stakes are too high these days, I guess.  We can't risk seeing any uggo's on the silver screen.  Everyone's a Guess model, especially the infiltrator of the group played by relative newcomer Brit Marling.  She's not quite up there with Jennifer Lawrence, but as in The Hunger Games part one, we get loving closeup after loving closeup of Brit's face.  She seemed kinda bored throughout the movie to me.  Poor thing.  And to think, she was this close to crashing the economy at Goldman Sachs.  Apparently too many people told her to go into modeling and then acting along the way.  It's only a matter of time before she plays the lead in the Linda McCartney story.  Let's just get it over with already.
Also, her character is forced to choose between her boring husband (John Ritter's kid), and the exciting ringleader of the group played by Stellan Skarsgard's kid.  Oh, she so chooses the latter.  Those baby blues, that face, that rockstar hair.  I must not have been enjoying myself, because I guessed what the third and last "jam" was going to be.  They call their eco-terrorist strikes "jams," by the way.  And like any good movie, these things come in threes.
Ultimately, I think what the movie's trying to say is this... in this economy, competition for whatever jobs are left is tight.  Very very tight.  So whether you're trying to get a legitimate job, say as an undercover cop, or a non-legitimate job with the hot young eco-terrorist group on the black market... ya better be photogenic!  Death to all Uggos forever... myself included.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Morons in Outer Space

What is it with Joe and outer space?  Maybe he pines for his lost Venusians.  You know the old story: he was far too ordinary on Venus, and he knew Earth was the place to make it in show business.  If you want to make it on Venus, you have to be good at clerical work, as Venus is mostly a planet of office space.
Anyway, judging by the titles alone, this is the second of Joe's forays into space, and there's only one left called Flying Saucer Daffy.  Hey!  Daffy Duck was supposed to do that one.  But the Stooges are nothing if not quick learners.  They learned from Space Ship Sappy that the mechanics of space travel are story killers.  Better to just skip ahead to where the Stooges have landed and acclimatized themselves to their new extraterrestrial surroundings, as in our next Stooge flick, Outer Space Jitters.  And the boys work fast too!  Despite their advanced age, they're already interested in meeting some Sunevian women.  Meanwhile, Professor Jones (Emil Sitka) is interested in learning from the Sunev people, as they apparently have much to teach us primitive Earth types.
Now, you might be wondering... what's the deal here?  Have the Stooges been to another one of those finishing schools?  Did it take this time?  Is the heredity / environment debate they so often find themselves embroiled in finally over?  Well... does this answer your question?  Thank God some things don't change.
And then... the plot pudding thickens as it percolates.  Professor Sitka... I mean, Jones, gets a demonstration of Sunevian technology.  They're ahead of us in tech stuff, but they're hung up on Frankenstein just like we are.  Alas, Jones finds out the Sunevians aren't the idealist aliens from The Day the Earth Stood Still... the original, not the Keanu Reeves remake.  And at least Marvin the Martian had a good reason to destroy the Earth... it was blocking his view of Venus!  The Sunevians seem to be preparing to attack the Earth just to scare us!  Welp, that's the basis for the industry known as Hollywood for ya.
Meanwhile, the Stooges are about to meet the ladies, but along the way they pass by a bunch of Sunevian treasure, which is strangely similar to 20th century Earth treasure!  Bars of gold and gems, but they're not as locked up as Earthlings do with their treasure.  Anyway, on to the girls.  Welp, some of the hardcore feminists out there just might slightly appreciate this scene, if only for at least one reason.  As The Grand Slitz explained earlier, Sunevians have electricity flowing through them instead of... blood?  I forget already.  Anyway, Moe and the Sunevian dame he victimizes share a kiss, but Moe almost gets electrocuted to death.  If only... right, some of you girls out there?  But the patriarchal nature of the known universe is restored, as the gal hands Moe her sash and they share a normal kiss.  Phooey.  But what is there to be said?  Who wouldn't want to kiss an attractive extra-terrestrial?  I do like her dress, which has a shiny pattern on it, reminiscent of a globular cluster.  Larry and Joe eventually show up.  Larry offers his Sunevian gal the gift of unpopped popcorn, and Joe's holding an uncooked chicken.  Again, jokes beaten to death, thanks to Joe.  Alas, the filmmakers didn't have the time nor the inclination to editing to have the Stooges spit out a puff of cigarette smoke.  Editing is done with Joe's gag... is it just me, or was Don Knotts doing an impression of Larry?
And then... a feast!  No good Stooge film is complete with a meal round a big dining room table.  Well, the Sunevians aren't total primitives, after all!  But what's on the menu?  Clam shells.  Rough way to get your calcium.  They've been watching too many Stooge films!  Larry makes a fine culinary joke... pun intended.  But just before that, The High Mucky Muck (played by Jerry Stiller precursor Philip van Zandt) gives away the game: water is the Sunevian's only weakness, just like the Wicked Witch of the West, and every bad guy in pretty much every M. Night Shyamalan film after The Sixth Sense.
...anyway, I think I've spent too much time on this one.  The only other thing I'll point out is that here the Stooges run past a carefully placed stage lamp.  Boy!  Besser's making them jump through all kinds of hoops!  Ooh, one other detail.  It's not often that the Stooges are asked to actually destroy something.  More often than not, they inadvertently destroy stuff.  You know, for the sake of laughter.  This time, it's a small act of interstellar war.  Thank God there's alien races that can be defeated by the Stooges.  But while Moe and Larry do all the heavy lifting of destroying the Sunevian Frankenstein machine, Joe's busy enriching himself with the gold and jewels from before, despite the threat of poison.  He fills his pants pockets so much that his damn pants fall right off.  Normally, if this happened to Curly or Moe or Larry or Shemp, they might be ashamed about that.  Apparently, not Joe.
So, to conclude, I never thought I'd give a Besser Stooge short four stars... so maybe I'll just make this one three and a half.  It's one that even Joe couldn't totally screw up!  All hail Joe!  All hail Joe!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

...Not What You Think

How does that work, anyway?  Rachel Maddow's on in the next room, so let's do like she would do.  I used to be fans of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore... when I was twelve.  Rumer Willis?  Not so much, and even she is getting tired of doing Adam Sandler productions, go figure.  I like Sting and Paul McCartney... but their kids?  Meh.  Now, the daughters of Peter Gabriel and Al Gore... is that asking so much?  Must be.
Now, to bring it all back home to this week's Popeye short, Wimmin is a Myskery.  This is the introduction of Popeye's four kids.  I always thought they were his nephews; shows you what I know.  But I do know this: I hate those little f... darlings now.  I don't know what it is.  But this cartoon short provides me some of the evidence I need.  They're four of cartoondom's most spoiled brats, and it's certainly no "myskery" to me that Olive would found Planned Parenthood after the nightmare she had.
...oh, right.  The plot.  The mental slate of Popeye and Olive's not necessarily set back to zero on this one, but they find themselves once again on the precipice of impending marriage.  Popeye sheepishly proposes, and Olive asks for one night to sleep on it.  She kisses Popeye's picture before going to sleep.  Now that's old school.  And then, we enter Olive's dream, and the fun begins... or the nightmare, depending on your vantage point.
Olive's dream fast forwards to a typical day of Olive's motherhood.  She washes the portraits of her four brats that all look and sound like miniature versions of Popeye... boy!  A seaman's genes are very dominant!  The little brats are introduced after they have totally destroyed the kitchen.  Olive lovingly cleans up after them as they run off to leave more destruction in their wake.
Now, as we all should know, The Simpsons has been one of the most original shows on TV ever, of all time... including Cretaceous and Devonian.  But even a show that good gets its ingredients from other sources.  Take the Tube Bar tapes influencing Bart's early crank calls to Moe Syzslak.  For the instant case, the whole story arc of Wimmin is a Myskery is summed up in one exchange between Patty and Hans Moleman... I think it was Patty, I can't remember.  Anyway, these two sexually desperate people are in Patty's tiny car, and Hans goes in for the kiss.  But the female is ultimately smarter than the male, and Patty considers the long-term implications: a bunch of Moleman-based rugrats running around, half-blind, bashing into things?  No thank you!  She kicks Moleman out of the car and takes off!  Screw that!  Or, don't screw that, as the case may be.
Second example: Popeye's four brats are smart little devils, too, unfortunately.  They try to steal a pie from Olive's window sill.  "That's Popeye's dinner!" yells Olive.  "Pop's pie, eh?" says the leader of the brats.  And then... yup, they dress in Popeye's adult clothes and the gruesome foursome attempt to imitate Popeye and steal the pie right in front of Olive's face.  It almost works, but they walk over the table... pretty good visual gag, actually.  Olive gets mad and the chase begins.  The Simpsons did a similar ruse more recently when Milhouse pretended to be an adult, but with legs made out of paint cans, and some damned thing to make his voice sound more like his dad... I don't remember the episode.  I can't keep track of all these new ones like I once did the old ones.
Finally, the little brats get some punishment from Olive, and rightly deserved, IMHO.  It should've come a lot sooner, frankly.  But the four brats disagree, and they wonder what Popeye would do in a similar situation.  Olive, their mom, has become Bluto in their eyes.  "Spinach!" one of them exclaims.  One of the little brats just happens to have a can.  The first one puts spinach in his mouth.  ...oh, and I forgot to mention that they're all trapped in a window, their heads outside, and their asses inside, which are getting whipped by Olive and her broom.  Oh, it's Michael Fay all over again.  Anyway, the first brat puts spinach in his mouth, the second one chews it, the third one swallows the chewed spinach, and the fourth one burps.  The ruminant quartet breaks free of the window... by ripping out a giant chunk of the house.  The four of them are now all hopped up on spinach steroids, but do they use their powers to repair the many, many damaging things they've done to the house?  Of course not!  Background artists for that, apparently.  No, they start to attack Olive.  Olive protests, saying "I'm your mother!"  Nope, no respect for mom.  Olive has become just another bully, but apparently the four mini-Popeyes aren't total @$$holes, so they just treat Olive like a cartoon seal treats a ball for a few minutes.  Olive wakes up to hear Popeye at the door, and she tells him to go to hell.  You go, girl!  Let's hope Popeye himself never sees this cartoon.
The story is credited to Ted Pierce.  That name seemed familiar to me, so I dialed him up on the interwebs.  He's also known as... Tedd Pierce, and he's one of those guys responsible for some of the classic cartoon stories of the '40s and beyond.  Hold the Lion, Please is another favourite of mine.  Apparently, he worked a lot with Chuck Jones.  The Fleischers insisted upon spelling his name "Ted," go figure.  Welp, anyway, you know how I feel about those four brats, but since this is their first appearance, I'll rate this one a little higher than the others... there aren't any others, are there?

-so sayeth the Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Horne Brothers

I love those guys! ...wait, I'm being told it's one guy with a rather short rap sheet.  Oh well.  The sun will rise on this kissing bandit, as it's still just the start of dreams.  Hollywood dreams!  Rubbing shoulders with Spike Lee and Tyler Perry... well, maybe not at the same party.

Robots Hitting Each Other

Welp, someone predicted that Transformers 4 would make $100 million... I guess just in the USA.  And it did!  So, somebody's doing something right.  And you know, I'm starting to think that all those CGI guys who work on the Transformers movies have a point about storytelling.  I mean, the robots have car tires on them!  IT'S ROBOTS HITTING EACH OTHER!  IT'S NOT SHAKESPEARE.  IT'S NOT DOSTOYEVSKY.  IT'S ROBOTS HITTING EACH OTHER!!!!!
I was going to say it's not Dickens or Stephen King, but that's a little iffy.  Anyway, the strong opening weekend virtually guarantees the continuation of the saga.  I'm wondering what it will take to replace Marky Mark.  My guess is he'll do three, tops, then get bored and move on to his next variation of Shooter.
Meanwhile, on the bottom end of the Top 10, Chef continues to cling on.  It's Jon Favreau's movie equivalent of a food truck about an Anthony Bourdain wanna be working out of a food truck.  Apparently, he burned some bridges with Cowboys and Aliens, so he has to do this as a gesture of good faith to get back into the blockbuster inner circle.  I'm confident he'll succeed.

Friday, June 20, 2014

To the Remake-mobile!

One of these things is not like the other... and apparently it's the correct one!  Yes, it's Connie Cezon's triumphant return as every Stooge fan's favourite multi-tasking gold digger.  A little older, a little wiser... but Hell hath no fury like... well, I just hate to spoil this surprise.  No, reader, you must suffer as I am suffering.  God, Joe is just so annoying.
Anyway, the plot.  Ah, first love!  What a change it makes in a Stooge.  What a magnificent secret he carries with him.  The tender passion gushes out of a Stooge's heart.  He loves as a bird sings, or as a rose blows from nature.... then again, this is 1957, and Moe is just turning 60, Lawrence is 55, and Joe's the young sprout at 50.  Rusty Romeos is about right, and maybe even far too generous.  But that's how it works in Hollywood: the girls have to be in their 20s while the comedy leads are allowed to be older.  Why, even Josh Duhamel at 41 is kinda pushing it with Safe Haven.  The romantic lead?  Still?
Anyway, as the schoolyard taunt goes, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a coupla rugrats in a baby carriage, puking and filling diapers all the time.  The Stooges, as they often find themselves, are about to get married, presumably their first.  Yes, even at their age.  But like Wimpy said in the 1980 Popeye movie, "Fish before matrimony!"  In lieu of fish, Larry makes pancakes.  As usual, the preparation of the batter goes completely wrong, and as usual, the filmmakers jump ahead to Larry taking the finished batter, and he spreads it onto a baking sheet with ... you know, one of those things for frosting a cake!  What's funny about the outcome is that the finished pancakes actually do look like little strips of pancake, the way Larry was making them.  Kinda like pancake pretzels or something!  Lol.  Either Moe ad-libs about this or it was in the script; a shout out to the proverbial collegiate Greek row.
And then, it's on to fixing the couch.  Larry shoots his repeating rifle full of tacks once again, and the filmmakers took great pains to make the line of tacks look like the previous one in Corny Casanovas.  Part of the problem with Joe is that he doesn't trust the audience as much, as he tends to grind the punchlines into the dirt, and the other Stooges have to react to it.  Probably in his contract; wouldn't surprise me.

Now, the reused footage.  At first, it looks like it's going to be a completely new film, but small bits from Corny are put in.  They seem inconsequential, but that's the Hollywood film for you: an industrial product consisting of hundreds, if not thousands, of little shots of seemingly mundane tasks all strung together to give the illusion of continuous motion.  You know, storytelling.
Anyway, the bits from Casanovas get more numerous.  Why, they even have the bit where Moe's hair gets parted by a stray bullet!  And then, in the big Third Act finale... it's practically all old footage.  Genius!  I wonder if Moe and Larry actually thought in advance to have the main action between them.  Apparently, Shemp at first was considered a temporary replacement.  Still, light years better than Besser, IMHO.  Besides, they seem to miss Shemp just a little, for at one point Larry does Shemp's bit where he revs up to think about throwing a punch.  Moe takes off after Larry much like Shemp would have!
To be fair to Joe, he does get hit on the head with that old potted plant on the wall.  Poor Joe; he is working harder than he ever thought he would.  Be that as it may, he has a hard time convincing me he's really that upset about Moe and Larry trying to take his girl, but whatever.  He more than makes up for it in the finale!
The finale's a little bit different.  It's still the Passion of the Larry, and it's still a volcano of soot from Larry's gullet when Moe presses his foot down on Larry's inflated belly.  Here's the difference: what's-her-face is about to leave after saying "So long, suckers!" when Joe comes back.  First of all: Joe's wearing a big coat.  Turns out he's hiding the repeating rifle of tacks under it!  Cold-blooded.  Second: apparently Walter White saw this part and never forgot it.  Joe gives his girl a hundred dollar bill... and he "drops" it on the ground!  She bends over to pick it up and... yep, Joe shoots her in the ass with about twenty white-headed pins.  Just enough to express his disapproval.  "You Jezebel!" he sneers as he spanks her with the gun.  You know, it wasn't so long ago that I seem to recall our anti-Saddam fervor, and part of it was an acknowledgement that we invaded partly because we were fighting cruelty to women.  The sentiment is nice, of course, but there are also some guys like Joe who would probably get used to whipping a few exposed ankles now and again.  All hail Joe, the most bad-ass ni... gangsta Stooge of them all!  Keepin' his two-timin' and three-timin' ho's in line old school!

Original length: 16:28.05
New footage only: 11:38.07, or 29.3% new footage!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Popeye and the Spinach Engine

Let's leave aside the larger implications of railroad franchising rights for the time being.  That's more for the wonks over at the World Socialist Web Site.  No, we and Bluto and Popeye know what's really at stake here: whoever wins the big railroad race gets a kiss from Olive Oyl.  Arguably, the douche-nozzles over at Maxim magazine probably think Olive's too skinny, for starters, but at the time she was the "it" girl, right after Betty Boop and about a hundred other girls.  Still, she's the girl, much like Isabella Rosselini is still the spokesgirl for Lancôme.  She is her character from Death Becomes Her after all!
Anyway, I better get back on track here.  Bluto sabotages Popeye's engine before the race begins, and plot events conspire to get Olive onto Bluto's train before he takes off.  Also, Wimpy's hamburgers sound more like celery as he eats them.
.........AND THEY'RE OFF!  Thanks to Bluto's underhandedness, he gets the early lead.  But Popeye crawls into his burning engine, unclogs the clog, and soon enough, Popeye's neck and neck with Bluto!  Popeye apparently has an advantage, what with his train being about a third the size of Bluto's.
And so, Bluto starts shoveling coal like a madman.  He discovers Olive in the coal car, but only when she's sitting in his shovel.  But Bluto's nothing if not a gentleman, and he waits until he wins to steal a kiss from Olive.  In the meantime, he puts Olive to work shoveling coal into the boiler.  She sees Popeye's train alongside Bluto's, and rightly decides that riding with Popeye would be, like, way more pleasant.  Oh why does animation-dom's oldest and most favourite love triangle always get a clean mental slate with each picture?
But Olive's nothing if not a constant screw-up, and sure enough, she slips while trying to board Popeye's train.  Soon, Bluto and Popeye are fighting over her like they fought over Short Round in Temple of Doom.  Olive eventually joins Popeye, and this exciting race continues.  Time for Bluto's second sabotage: "You got a leak!" says Bluto as he punctures a hole in Popeye's engine.  And of course, Popeye's engine deflates like a balloon.  Popeye quickly re-inflates his train's engine, using a candle to warm up a tea kettle, and some rubber tubing to channel the steam to re-inflate the engine.  After the engine's back to normal, much like the Stooges' cakes after pumping them up with hydrogen gas, Popeye puts two small pieces of tape over Bluto's puncture hole, and off they go again.  Don't think about that too much, metallurgists or otherwise.  Besides, I have to dock the filmmakers a few points for reusing the same footage of Popeye without Olive on board.  A rushed production!  What next?  They'll let that spendthrift madman Gene Deitch loose on the Popeye franchise?... oh, right.  BOI-OI-OIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway... the race is still neck and neck until the next obstacle.  Spoiler alert: only in a cartoon.  Both trains make it across okay, but only because Popeye and Bluto hold hands, if only briefly.  Bluto uncharacteristically thanks Popeye, and then, more characteristically, but still a bit over the top even for Bluto, he hits Popeye on the head with a wrench.  Popeye recovers after Olive says Bluto will get to kiss her if he wins the race.  Popeye gets mad and, with one last piece of coal, he fires up the engine to once again get neck and neck with Bluto.  And once again, Olive's not on the train anymore!  Bad work, filmmakers, bad work.  Hang your heads in shame.
And then, Bluto's third sabotage: Bluto grabs the drive shaft of Popeye's train.  Only in a cartoon.  "Your drive shaft is loose!" sneers Bluto as he throws it away.  Popeye stops the train and takes over as drive shaft.  Dude!  He hasn't even eaten any spinach yet!  One last sabotage from Bluto: Bluto hits the... you know, the thing that diverts a train to a second track.  Popeye's train veers off the main race route and crashes into a water tower.  Now, unlike when Buster Keaton broke his back on a railroad track thanks to a gushing stream of water from a water tower, Popeye's okay, but his train gets totally destroyed.  Also, Olive's nowhere to be found.  Well, an explosion ain't no place for a lady, as Popeye might say.  Oh, it's spinach time.  It is so time for the spinach.
And so, Popeye eats his two-tone spinach and quickly reassembles his train.  Hmm!  Seems to be an amalgam of the original train and the water tower... and parts of either a spaceship or a cruise ship.  His new train is now a giant, streamlined behemoth.  One last ingredient: Olive Oyl, and they're off to win the race.  I guess this is Popeye's way of admitting that his original train was kinda crappy... kinda really crappy.
Popeye's train easily zips past Bluto's, and Bluto's train spins around, turning into a heap beside the tracks... hey!  That's a Disney sound effect!  They should sue.  You know, just to send a message.
And so, Popeye and Olive get a celebratory wreath with a franchise contract on it.  No lyrics about winning?  Oh well.  At least the plot was halfway decent.

Good double bill with: Car-azy Drivers... okay, maybe not, but still... there's something about that one!  I spent way too long trying to find it again.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Clayton Broomes Jr.

Well, he's still a young guy... but the clock's ticking.  Stop making shorts!  Get something reviewed, for God's sake!!

Summertime Sadness

(Sunday proper) ...okay, Kevin Hart.  It's go time, buddy.  Sure, you've had at least one other massive, number one hit this year, but I'd hold off on that next 3D concert film.  Maybe after you finish post-production on Captain Underpants.  Once again, I'm caught off guard and just not thinking.  Hart got the Stew-Beef bump, appearing on The Daily Show to promote his latest smash hit.  Meanwhile, Jersey Boys debuts at #4.  I dunno... the color palette of that movie's a little too drab.  Kinda like how The Royal Tenenbaums is too unfuriously yellow.  I mean, sure, reminiscing about the 50s is fun and all, but Frankie Valli?  Really?  I prefer my voices of a generation a little less falsetto, and more in my own vocal range, I guess.  Sure, I'm too picky that way... anyway, those were the two big debuts this week.  Meanwhile, back at the Box Office lab, Chef can't get past #9!  Don't people understand?  What's-his-face is making a swipe at Iron Man 3 in "indie film" form!  Same cast on a shoestring budget.

...what's the big movie this week?  I forget.  But I couldn't help but think of what Lana Del Sky... Rey!  Lana Del Rey... said this week, something about wanting to be dead.  First of all... isn't that a porn star's name?  And second, I dunno... I know it's kind of a theme for her, what with her album titled "Born to Die" and all, and maybe I'm just old fashioned.  In fact, I am old fashioned, and I know damn well I'm the problem, and not Lana Del Rey.  Hang on, I'm in the middle of resurrecting my laptop for the FIFTIETH time.  Oh, which wireless network should I pick?  Netgear 2-4 or LASTOFTHESHITZ?  WHICH?!!
Still, I think that that statement's a little tasteless.  Give Dana Plato some credit, at least, or Jonathan Brandis or any number of other celebrites that offed themselves, who at least had the courage of their convictions.  What, we gotta do everything around here?  First we gotta make you famous, now we gotta kill you too?  So you can join your precious 27 Club?  You have free will, you know!  Or did you just find out that we might not love you when you're no longer young and beautiful?  Maybe it's just me, but this new crop of celebrities is out for blood.  Even greedier than the Baby Boomers.  Give me fame NOW.  Bigger salaries NOW.  More fame NOW.  More attention NOW.  More awards NOW.  MORE, MORE, MORE.  NOW, NOW, NOW.  And still, they don't even seem to like it!  Anyway, the critics are still debating whether Jersey Boys is this generation's GoodFellas, but I'll bet Eastwood's secretly hoping Jersey Boys does a little better at the box office than GoodFellas first did!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Flying Deuces, Part 2: Tit for Tat

Herald the harps and trumpets!  It's time for another Joe Besser short called Horsing Around.  In case the plot and cast (Tony the Wonder Horse?) seem a little familiar, that's because this is a sequel to the short from five films ago, Hoofs and Goofs.  Welp, you gotta hand it to the Stooges... Joe Besser's forcing them to try all sorts of new things.  This is the first official Stooge sequel, but it's not Jules White's first rodeo.  He's worked with plenty of trained animals before... but I should probably brush up on my history first before saying that.
Anyway, Moe's holding up a picture of his sister... him in drag.  Moe spends the film looking like he's half out of the sister makeup, lol.  Here's a spot where Larry seems to be rather fed up with Joe.  Is it just me?  I don't think so.  I feel your pain, Lawrence.  I feel your pain.
But horses weren't meant to be alone.  Bertie wants to seek out Schnapps, her horse soul mate.  Off the four of them go into the Los Angeles back woods and... to the same cabin of Guns a Poppin!  Even the same couple seconds of 2nd unit, scene-establishing footage!  God bless the shoestring Stooges.  And yet, that Farrelly brothers Three Stooges movie cost more to make than all the Stooges' shorts combined.  Go figure.
Probably, I mean.  Now for those of you who find the Stooges too lowbrow, ol' Joe Besser's to the rescue!  Another first: Larry complements the caraway seeds in the rye bread of the sandwich he's eating.  That's right... caraway seeds!  Unfortunately, Moe brings the proceedings back down to the gutter with his retort... no.  I'm not going to dignify it further by repeating it.  Disgusting.
And so, the third act.  The Stooges spring into action when they hear on the radio that Schnapps is going to be shot that very day!  The filmmakers cleverly build dramatic tension with two concurrent plot threads: 1) the Stooges rushing towards Schnapps, and 2) Emil Sitka acting elderly, who has been appointed the official assassin of Schnapps.  Fortunately for us, he's inept, and keeps getting distracted from his goal.
The Stooges' wagon develops a Taxi Boys taxi-type wheel at some point.  Geometry students, take note: the axle is not penetrating the wheel at its center.  A little bit off, and it's comedy gold!  Gold, Jerry!
Moe's wearing a very shiny detective coat.  Lol!  Also, the inspiration for Sideshow Bob's greatest nemesis!  Oh, this one's a classic... or maybe not.  It turns into a mushy love story when the two horses are reunited.  And, for all the Creepy Police out there, isn't the ending kinda creepy?  Arrest this short!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

The Popeye Way

Our next Popeye short is one I don't think I've ever seen, and it's called Me Feelins is Hurt.  Looks like the filmmakers just got a rostrum camera or something, and decided to have some fun with it on this one.  If I know my definitions... and I don't... well, it's basically an animation camera, but for some reason I thought it could tilt along its z-axis.  For example, it could be used to make a ship look like it's bobbing to and fro in the water if the animators were lazy and didn't want to actually draw it that way.  Anyway, when Popeye gets to the Bar None Ranch proper, things get a little wobbly.  A mean horse is summoned from his stall, much like the angry bulls from... a previous Popeye short.
I'm not sure exactly when Popeye's feelings get hurt.  I guess it's early on in the picture, and for what may be the first and last time, Popeye explicitly asks the audience to read this note that Olive wrote him, instead of the usual, where we implicitly read over Popeye's shoulder.  And so, off Popeye goes to find this ranch that the mortals have named the Bar None.  We get a satellite eye's view of the globe for this.
Anyway, the usual stuff happens.  Popeye learns a new craft, Olive realizes Bluto's just a jerk in a new outfit, and Popeye runs afoul of a rattlesnake before eating his spinach... rattlesnake?  That's new!  Well, at least the snake doesn't try to hypnotize him.  Snakes used to do that in cartoons, once upon a time.  But this rattlesnake does stick out its tongue at Popeye, and when it does, it makes a party favor sound.  Neat-o!  The snake reminds me a bit of the giant jellyfish from Females is Fickle.  And for once, Olive sings the ending song!  A fairly decent short.  I want to give it three and a half stars... but somehow I can't.  I think my three and a half star days are over, as far as these Popeye shorts go.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Miguel Garzón Martínez

...wait a minute!  Isn't this name out of order?  Ah, no one's paying any attention anyway.  Besides, the spirit moved me... TO A BIGGER HOUSE!!!  Whoops.  I said the loud part quiet and the quiet part loud.
Anyway, if there's one thing I learned about being on the Facebooks, is that it's really more for the celebrities.  I know I've said this before, but if Charlie Sheen were to post on the Facebooks something like "I just picked a booger that looks exactly like Justin Bieber!" he would get a thousand people posting in response "That is so sexy.  Please marry me."  And second, much like Brad Pitt's description of his team in Moneyball, Hollywood has a strict caste system.  You got your A-listers, of course, that everyone knows and loves.  Then you got your B-listers who get their stuff shown after hours on Cinemax.  Then there's all the stuff on The Movie Channel and Showtime... ouch!  Oh, right, I forgot.  They're good now.  Everyone's got web exclusive series and junk.
And then, there's a vast middle ground of people just waiting to join the A-listers.  They're doing the work, they're making the short films, acting as director and chief lighting cameraman, and developing the film at 3 a.m. and doing the catering.  All they need is their shot at the brass ring, and they're ready to go.  You know, kinda like Christine Lahti or Elayne Boozler.  They've got the right attitude, those two.  But what about guys like Miguel here?  When is it his turn in the sun?  Why can't he be the proverbial fourth Beatle with Guillermo del Toro and that handsome Innaritu bastard?  Sorry, that was rather racist, even for me, I know.  ...what was the other guy?  Alfonso Cuaron, right.  I wonder how that Believe show is doing.  Personally, I think I'd find it stressful being on the run so much.  Everything in moderation, especially adrenaline.
...where was I?  Oh, right.  Martinez's latest project is Breaking Bad... I mean, Breaking Point.  Check out the teaser trailer on YouTube.  Personally, I think the room's too dark, don't you, folks?  It's supposed to be "movie dark," not actual dark.

...okay, here's the actual trailer.  Okay, the lighting's better, but I dunno.  Still kinda hammy.  Plus, the story's maybe a little too generic?  I mean, can you think of one other movie where an undercover cop infiltrates a gang, and the gang leader or one of the alpha gang members gets suspicious?  I'll give you some titles to start with.  Donnie Brasco, The Fast and the Furious 1 (2001), White Heat, Stalag 17, Kiss of Death (1995), Kiss of Death (1947), ... here's a link to a list of "informer" titles.

The House on Jonah Hill

Well, comic book Hollywood must be breathing a sigh of relief, as The Fault in Our Stars slips to #5, and all the usual comedy/comic book fare takes the top spots like normal.  Jonah Hill's latest, 22 Jump Street was #1, and the other debut this week, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is at #2.  It's off to a rocky start, but Dragon 2 just might live up to the box office performance of its predecessor, Dragon 1, which was #1 for 3 weeks if memory serves.  I'm trying to recall if there was another sequel like 22 Jump Street that changed the name like that, blatantly but all in good fun.  Oh well.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Have Plot, Will Travel

Our next Stooge short leaves the awesome world of sci-fi behind, and goes back to a more earthbound plot with Guns a Poppin.  Gee, is it a Western?, actually!  It's a remake of that pre-stroke Curly classic Idiots Deluxe.  Lol.  See, this is where Joe pays off for the Stooges!  The ability to remake Curly shorts!
As it turns out, the plot is overhauled quite a bit here from the original Idiots Deluxe.  For economics fans in the audience, Moe's nervous breakdown is brought about due to economic stress: creditors closed up Moe's business (probably due to wanton destruction by the Stooges) and Moe has to pay $10,000 to... somebody.  And so, much like the Milton Berle character in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the pressures of the business world get to Moe.  Also, there's apparently a gunfight between the Stooges and a couple of cowboys.  That would explain the new title!  But don't worry, fans of Idiots Deluxe.  The two-man quartet is back in full form!  In a delightful twist, Larry plays the Curly part of trombone and bass drum, with a drumstick attached to his ass.  Apparently, even that was too much for that innocent babe in the woods who stumbled upon the evil Stooges' cabin in the woods, Joseph Besser.
What I'm trying to figure out here... at the last minute, of course... is if Wikipedia's claim is true, that Guns a Poppin' uses a "surprisingly minimal amount of stock footage from the original."  Viewers with a trained eye will spot the little differences.  For example, when Moe ties the trombone slide around the combined necks of Larry and Joe, some of Curly's struggle noises can be heard from Idiots Deluxe.  Also, the "Fine for hunting" joke is driven into the ground here, rather than the confident aside that it was in Idiots.  To be fair, there's an interesting commentary here that speaks to our crumbling health care system... I mean, soon to be rebuilt by the Democrats.  I guess, because I've seen it first, I prefer Moe eagerly engulfing his meds in Idiots as opposed to the proverbial stuffed goose he is here, here in Poppin.  He gets a funnel in his mouth, and Larry pours in a bunch of pills, then a bottle of liquid, then he shakes Moe's head around.  Joe says "That oughta cure him!"  Larry adds, "Or kill him!"  Dr. Fine, Bill Frist wants to hire you!
Anyway, on to the cabin.  Joe's certainly got the right hat for the occasion: the ol' Daniel Boone coonskin cap with dangling tail, right?  As usual, for now the boys make do with one slice of bread, drowned in about twenty different condiments.  Lol.  Ah, showbiz.  If only the Stooges had a cooking show like Miklos Molnar.  1945 Moe orders his eggs sunny side down here.  Boy, the more things change...
And once again, the bear is eventually discovered, and Joe and Larry venture out into the world to get it.  No bear trap this time.  I'm assumpting that they're not using a live bear in this one, just stock footage from Deluxe.  You gotta hand it to Curly; at least he did a few scenes with the actual bear!  I know, I know, be kind to Joe.  But as I've learned lately in my own job search, all life is precious until it starts looking for a job.  At that point, all bets are off.  Joe took the job, so SCREW HIM!!!!!!
Anyway, back to the plot.  This time, the bear takes the Stooges' car right out of their driveway, as opposed to taking over driving in mid-drive in Idiots.  From there, Moe gets put to sleep by Larry, and then... cue the new subplot!  A local sheriff is trying to bring a criminal to justice.  Shots ring out one after another.  In other words... guns start a poppin!  Moe awakens, and gets jittery anew.  "My nerves!  My nerves!!!" he cries.
Say, kids!  Do you like the gag where a guy gets crushed by his front door?  And someone ends up standing on said door with a guy under it?  Well, you're going to love Guns a Poppin to death because the gag happens to Moe not once, not twice... but three times a gag!  Maybe even a fourth if the writers are good.
No, just three it will be, apparently.  Now, if you're like me, and trying to build a case against, Joe, here's a good scene here that will do it: the bad guy stands behind Joe and fires his gun at the sheriff, holding the gun through Joe's arms.  Such uselessness.  Moe gives a shout out to his people, saying "I got this gun for my bar mitzvah!"  Boy, those were the days.  I tell you darling, this bad guy's studied the Stooge playbook.  Incidentally, the bad guy is long-time Stooge regular and even the fake Shemp, Joe Palma.
It's too wonderful.  To make a long story short, there was a $10,000 reward for the bad guy.  God bless the criminals and the wonderful bounties upon their heads, as I so often say.  However, the Stooges lose it in a unique way: they over-congratulate the sheriff, and the bad guy sneaks out the window.  Did Larry David write that?  Anyway, things turn to crap for the Stooges, and we end up back in the 1945 courtroom, where Moe is found not guilty, and he even gets his axe back.  I do like the ending of this one, however: after ruining his axe on Larry's head, Moe walks toward the camera like a drugged-up breakdown zombie.  "My nerves!  My nerves!" he cries, approaching the audience, as we fade to black.


Okay, on to the science.  According to my less-than-rigorous calculations, when the Stooges typically remake a film, it seems like they use about 20% of the footage from the original.  How does Guns a Poppin add up?  24.6%!  I therefore have grounds to find the claim of "surprisingly minimal footage" to be dubious at best, and criminally negligent at worst.  Mwahahahahahahahahaha!

Original length: 16:39.04 (including beginning credits and end title card)
Old footage removed: 12:32.28

good triple bill with: Saps at Sea and Idiots Deluxe

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

The Desolation of Bluto

Our next Popeye short is called Stealin' Ain't Honest.  Again, another haughty, generic, semi-biblical title, but the plot's a bit more conventional.  Think Dizzy Divers, except, as you can divine from the pic to the left, it's a land-based treasure hunt.  Popeye's learned his lesson from Dizzy Divers and he doesn't let Bluto see the map beforehand.  However, Bluto's ready this time, for he's got a camera... and a portable bath of photo-developing chemicals!  Lol.  As it turns out, however... no photo pun intended... he kinda didn't need to go to all that trouble.  For one, there's an arrow floating in the ocean pointing to the treasure.  Bluto's ahead of Popeye in the race to get there and, maybe out of a sense of sportsmanship, he doesn't take it with him.  Also, the island with the gold mine's got a huge sign on it.  Hmm!  There's a shallow economics lesson in all of this somewhere.  Olive's got the raw materials, but no big burly men to harvest them.  Frankly, the whole enterprise is a bit half baked, but that's the setup for Act One.
Act Two: let the digging for the treasure begin.  Alas, this is a cartoon, so none of the realism of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre here.  No, it's all about digging in the right place.  At one point, Olive sticks her hand in a hole in the wall, and when she pulls it back out... BOOM!  Her hand's covered in rings!  Bluto does the same thing, but when his fist comes out... BOOM!!!  It's got a 14 karat boxing glove upon it!  You'll never guess what he does with it.
And so, in the third Act of our story, Popeye goes flying through the air, but before he lands (he knows not where) ... oh, it's so spinach time.  All the usual stuff: Bluto gets the crap beat out of him, yada yada yada.  You know, come to think of it... since when do cartoon characters need money, let alone go on crazy mining expeditions?  Well, they're only human, I guess.  But there's room for one last gag.  Olive and Popeye's boat is full of the proverbial sacks with dollar signs on them.  Popeye throws on one last gold nugget and... yup, the boat sinks with a mighty ker-plunk, if you will, into the ocean.  How are they gonna make it back to civilization?  Simple.  In the end, we see Popeye on the ocean floor, walking along, carrying the whole boat with him.  He gives two pipe toots while underwater... OH MY GOD!  He's the Highlander!!!!

Good double bill with: Cactus Makes Perfect.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

Auteur Watch - Avery Brooks

Wait... Cap'n Sisko's a director?  Well, somebody's gotta try and keep up with that bastard Frakes, right?  Try as he might, though, Brooks was unable to escape the ghetto of... I mean, gravitational pull of the Star Trek universe.  Oh, Brooks is singing the Bieber blues, no question.  "Oh, that Frakes, he's younger than me, stronger than me... been directing longer than me."  Never say never, Avery!  Fight till whatever.

Edge of Bankability

Welp, Thomas Cruise made the rounds this week: The Daily Show, Jimmy Fallon.  He's working harder and smiling more than he's accustomed to.  Will it pay off?  Will this be another smash for Cruise and, to a lesser extent, celebrated director Doug Liman?
(Sunday)...AND THEY'RE OFF!  Chef comes in at #9 for the third straight week in a row!  Well, as Favreau will tell you, not too shabby for a Kickstarter-funded film that he filmed in one weekend with his close personal Iron Man friends.  Million Dollar Arm has spent four glorious weeks in the Top 10, but at #10 this is probably its last week.  Neighbors is at #7 this week, but check this out: in terms of ranks, it was 1, 2, 4, 6, then 7.  Meanwhile, Godzilla came out a week later, and so far it's also 1, 2, 4 then 6!  Will it be #7 next weekend?  It hopes not!  Adam Sandler's latest plunges from #5 last week to #8 this week.  He needs to stick to the formula: more fart jokes, less Nick Swardson... or is that more Nick Swardson, less fart jokes?  Or is it less fart jokes, more farts?  In any case, Rob Schneider must still not want to be a movie star anymore or something.  Where is he, Adam?  Where is he?
And so, this week's debuts.  Tom Cruise crash lands at #3!  And at #1?  A movie about actual people!  I've never been so sick to my stomach.  Yes, it's the Shakespeare-inspired The Fault in Our Stars, that has two young people asking a question never asked by '50s crooners: why must we be two crippled teenagers in love?  That's just how it works, for some reason.  Kids tend to feel things more strongly than adults.  Well, adults have been there, done that.  Not that they're not committed to the kids, of course.  Anyway, it's time for Nick Searchman... oh, what's that guy's name... Nicholas Sparks!  That's it.  Time for that shiny-faced bastard to do some serious soul searching.  How is he supposed to compete with this?  This reality-based couple?  Don't people wanna swoon anymore?  Isn't he still the Stephen King or John Grisham of bored white suburban teenagers falling in love?  In the meantime, send your prayers to Tracy Morgan and the victims of that horrible crash.  Sounds like he could use a little help... or maybe he's at a good hospital, who knows.  You think he would be.