Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Paris Je T'aime

The Takeaway: Never make eye contact in the subway. You may end up kissing a girl with that thing on her bottom lip.

Format: DVD

The biggest surprise of the summer of 2007 for me (other than discovering that a very pregnant wife in the humidity of a Manhattan august will mean the husband is surely wrong no matter what he does. Black is not black. It's white, jackass. It could be green. Really, it's entirely up to her. It might even be the number 3) Again - biggest surprise other than that: this lovely flick - a collection of 18 short films each dealing with a different aspect of love in the city that will forever be known as the epicenter of that emotion - and rightfully so. Having been to, and completely fallen in love with Paris (with my decidedly unpregnant wife. In case you're wondering, black was then the letter A; no free rides, pal; pregnant or not) this collection was like going back for a stroll down the Seine with a bottle of wine and a fresh baguette from the local boulangerie.

When you have so many films in an anthology, surely not every one will take you by surprise and wrap its fingers around your heart - but here is an excellent collection with most of the films delivering the goods. Different styles, different points of view - all add up to one very decided thought - the filmmakers all love Paris. And after watching Paris Je T'aime - so will you.

Not surprisingly - it's Paris.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Karate Kid

The Takeaway: William Zabka begins his career as "greatest teen dick" here in the original The Karate Kid. You know, the one where they actually use karate as the martial art of choice.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

From Van Damme's Universal Soldier, I decided to continue reliving my karate flick youth with another one we never stopped watching after martial arts class. Thankfully this one holds up well - very well. The Karate Kid is every bit as enjoyable years later as a somewhat full grown adult as it was when I was peeking into the girl's locker room, playing nintendo, sucking down soda like it's my lifeforce... wait a tick - yeah - not much has changed. And point being - neither has this wonderful film.

What makes The Karate Kid standout so much is the relationship between Miyagi and Daniel. This a relationship that each needs so desperately to feel complete in their life. We don't know what happens to Daniel's father - we just know the guy aint around. A boy needs a father - Miyagi steps in. Conversely - Miyagi lost his family. Daniel fills the void. It truly is touching and sweet and played to perfection by Ralph Macchio and the late Pat Morita.

Other standouts are the beautiful cinematography, energetic score, sensational 80s music soundtrack, and fishing boat loads of badass karate action. Hell - they even have a Halloween scene thrown in. When I think of 80s flicks, a few come to mind: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Goonies, Blade Runner, and The Karate Kid is right there along with (sound the cheese bell!) the best around.

Twilight Zone Marathon.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Universal Soldier

The Takeaway: Van Damme's ass looks amazing on bluray.

Format: Bluray

As a a kid studying martial arts in the late 80s, early 90s - Van Damme could do no wrong. The man was frickin' incredible. He'd totally kick Segal's tailend from here to next week! Except if he was playing the character he played in Universal Soldier.

Wow. So this doesn't hold up well. I remember thinking this was so badass back in 90s. I mean really - Dolph and Van Damme slamming each other every which way? How could you go wrong? Well - you go wrong when you grow into an adult and realize the film is utter crap! I wish I could steal a time machine from some super secret government organization, find myself at Guilderland High School (probably hiding in some bathroom skipping class), and flick myself in the ear for even thinking of watching the film, having a good memory of it, which then makes me watch it again years later.

I won't call this a bomb. I won't even give it my worst rating. But it is: Reality TV. Um - try and enjoy kiddies. Better yet - if you have fond memories of it - please refrain from ever watching again. Just keep it in the sweet sanctity of your mind's eye.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

The Takeaway: We all know why Liz walks around with a pout on her face for so much of the movie. Just look at Hellboy's hand. I can't believe she isn't limping too.

Format: DVD

After the early works of Spielberg, Summer Movies That Don't Suck had to jump ahead in time so I could remember that yes - badass summer flicks do exist in the 21st century too. They just don't come as fast and furious as they did in the late 70s/early 80s - when almost every summer month had not only a great flick, but an instant classic. June '82 anyone?

Hellboy is my favorite comic book character of the last 20 years. He's cool as all getout. He chomps a cigar. He says "crap" a lot. He beats the bad guys to a pulp with his really, really, really big hand. And he's the lead good dude in a secret US government paranormal protection agency. The first film was so damn good I wore out the DVD - and that's really, really, really hard to do. Okay - I'm lying. The DVD is just fine - but I watched it way too many times. So when they had so much trouble getting a sequel off the ground (damn studios!) I was pissed. Then came the news that Del Toro pulled the upset and got the flick into production. Needless to say I was there opening day.

This is just a cool flick - really, really, really cool. I like saying really, really, really - what are ya gonna do about it? Del Toro does here what every great sequel manages - keeps the tone the same, but expands the scope of the original without going to the absurd. There are awe-inspiring moments that will leave your eyes plastered to the screen for complete sequences at a time. Troll Market! What sets the film apart from most comic book flicks, other than the quirky humor, is the heart of the characters. They make you feel. They make you believe that despite their oddball shapes and sizes - they are real people in real relationships. It's pure magic.

You really, really really need to see it if ya haven't. Twilight Zone Marathon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

E.T.

The Takeaway: You will not get a lawsuit from a dear old friend even if your creature looks like his.

Format: DVD

How can a full grown man still cry at this movie? I kept asking myself that question while watching this time around. I get choked up every time I see it. You wanna know why? Spielberg is the master puppeteer and we are his puppets. He knows exactly how to get to us, and as I completed the trilogy of his early works (Jaws, Close Encounters, and E.T.) I realized just how truly incredible he was at that point of his career. He knows exactly how he wants us to feel or what to think at any given moment and carefully crafts the scene to deliver on his desire. I said it in a previous post - but this is a master craftsman at work at arguably the finest point of his or anyone's career.

What a treat to watch these three masterpieces to open the Summer Movies That Don't Suck event. My challenge to all budding filmmakers out there. Watch these films. Over and over. Til your eyes glaze over and possibly even bleed. Study the greats and we will have a new generation of filmmakers to be proud of. I realize how difficult Hollywood has made it. You need to figure out how to take the reins back. Wrestle control away from the executives and please - get us back to where we need to be. The revolution begins with you.

Paris.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The Takeaway: Watch out for the giant flashing shofar in the sky. My Jewish homies know what I'm talking about.

Format: Bluray

Spielberg's first foray into HD is an absolute rocket ship! Blastoff. This is by far the best Close Encounters has ever looked and sounded at home. We all know the story about the peaceful aliens who come a' callin' to this little rock we call Earth. If this film, along with Jaws (see yesterday's post) and E.T (see tomorrow's post), proves anything - it's that Speilberg had us by the balls with his awesomeness in the early days of his filmmaking. NO ONE did it better. Just imagine having those 3 films along with Raiders of the Lost Ark in your resume. That's all that went through my head as I watched these films over the past few days. Having one of them still gets your name in the history books and Stevey-boy has all 4.

Wow.

Yes I devoted a whole paragraph to "wow" - he deserves it. We are talking knockout filmmaking at the master level in every category. I'll even go down as saying Dreyfuss' performance here is his best to date. Although I still have a bit of a soft spot for his character in American Graffiti. Anyone who has a bluray player must go and get this release asap. There is simply no reason not to at this point - it's on Amazon for $15 and includes all 3 versions of the film, a small book, a poster, and tons of special features over 2 discs.

I couldn't have picked better flicks to open the Summer Movies That Don't Suck extravaganza. Jaws, Close Encounters, and E.T. (again - swing by tomorrow for the review) are what summer flicks are all about. They have big concepts, elegant stories, plenty of action, and most importantly - they ooze with heart.

Paris.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jaws

The Takeaway: When you follow a hot chick down the beach as the sun is setting and you've had too much to drink - don't be a hero - let her go in the water and you just calmly pass out like you're supposed ta. You'll get your chance with her later. Oh, er, wait..

Format: DVD

Let's just start with that story I promised you all in the last post. So yeah - I was born because of Jaws. Spielberg is therefore my rightful father and I am due his millions. Here's the tale. My momma and papa were at the beach the summer Jaws came out. They saw the flick. Next day, everyone was going in the water. They were scared to death from the flick, stayed back, made some sweet summer lovin', and I came to be 9 months later. Well - 8 months later, but that's another story.

How's that for a horror film doing its job? And yes - make no mistake about it - Jaws is a horror film. An expertly crafted horror film - it's a master class in horror and tension, not to mention character development, pacing, music - the film is damn near perfect if not so.

It's Paris in Fall!

Friday, June 18, 2010

SUMMER MOVIES THAT DON'T SUCK!

As the summer steams ahead in sweltering sticky gooeyness, you may have noticed a distinct lack of blog entries here at Flick A Day. Well my faithful demon hordes, I've been prepping the awesomeness that will forevermore be regarded as Summer Movies That Don't Suck, aka - The Flick A Day Summer Movie experience.

Due to the lack of vision, creativity, and any sign of pulse of life in Hollywood, we have maybe 2 or 3 films worth seeing this summer. I'm sure you'll agree this could well go down as the worst year for movies since good ole Tommy boy starting twisting the crank in 1891. And so I decided it was time to go back and watch all the summer movies of years past that I can possibly fit into my diet here at Couch De Roer. For the next 2 and half months I will be watching exclusively movies that were released for the summer movie season beginning with the summer blockbuster that started it all - Jaws. When I say it started it all - I mean it started it ALL. I was born because of Jaws! Read the review in the next day or so for more on that astonishing tale of wonder.

So make sure to check back every day for your new Summer Movies That Don't Suck review!

Cheers,

Jason

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage

The Takeaway: Dario Argento made a better debut film than most modern directors make after years of practice. I usually reserve this space for something funny. But there is nothing funny about the pathetic state of affairs in Hollywood today. Our industry is dying and this is the WORST year for movies I can remember. End rant.

Format: DVD

Argento may be better known for Susperia, but Bird is his masterpiece. Hypnotic, stylish flick that keeps you watching, keeps you guessing, and entertains you, while showing little blood (in a horror film! Imagine that! Using ACTUAL fear and suspense instead of tearing someone's head off?) and hitting the chill bone with slick direction and an excellent score by the legendary Ennio Moriconne.

Taking a page from Hitchcock's notebook, Argento realizes that what truly terrifies us is what we don't see. DON'T SEE. Got it Hollywood? We good now?

The only horror coming out of Hollywood these days is that the industry I LOVE so much is collapsing under its own stupidity. God willing this will lead to the sort of 1970s revolution that, ironically led to the disaster we're in now, but for awhile gave us fresh, exciting, filmmaking and classics I will cherish forever.

All right - sorry for sideswiping my own review here - but it's something that needed to be said. Back to Bird - get it. Now. Enjoy, kiddies! It's a Twilight Zone Marathon!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Ugly Truth

The Takeaway: Charming rogues always win. Someday - I'm gonna be a charming rogue.

Format: DVD

First Time Viewing: The Ugly Truth is an anomaly in the modern rom-com world and I think that's why it succeeds so well. It hits every goddammed traditional rom-com beat - I mean like EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN' ONE. The structure of this bad boy is as formulaic as they come - the kind that studio execs regularly slap themselves on the back for saying how creative they are - no you're not - you followed a pattern set in motion when a caveman first gathered a crowd of his cavemen companions around a fire and told a rom-com (exclusively in grunts I might add) to try and get lady cavemen to do nasty cavemen business with them. Anyhoo - The Ugly Truth? No different than the grunted caveman rom-com - except this - There has been a trend in the post 40-Year Old Virgin world to make rom-coms for dudes. These come in many forms - even the painfully annoying Bromance Breed. But the thought is this - let's make rom-coms that dudes will like. And guess what? Cavemen like them. So they keep churning them out. But the dude rom-com follows different beats than the chick rom-com.

What did The Ugly Truth do? Followed the chick rom-com beats - EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN' ONE (oh - did I mention that before?) - BUT infused it with dude rom-com funny. So what you get is a hybrid - a hermaphrodite rom-com if you will. And it is fucking hilarious after the first 7 minutes or so, which honestly aren't so good. I'll also add the last 5 minutes blow too. But everything between those 2 points - very nice. Well played, Ugly Truth. Well played.

Enjoy, kiddies! Soft Serve Ice Cream @ 66th and B'way.