Archive for September, 2008

My Best Friend’s Girl (4/10)

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on September 27, 2008 by Brandon


Dane Cook finally finds the right haven for his style of comedy in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” – he plays a complete jerk, and does so effectively, and often to hilarious effect. It’s too bad he has to be playing the romantic opposite of a woman with whom he shares zero chemistry and a screenplay that is bound and determined to fulfill every single romantic comedy cliche in spite of the sometimes-bordering-on-clever screenplay. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a screenplay so bent on its own destruction – nearly anytime it starts to veer into territory any cleverer than the usual tripe, some romcom stand-by rears its ugly head and cuts off the characters from going places that matter instead of those that don’t.

Jason Biggs plays opposite Cook in what is many of the pic’s highlights – performances on the side that, though clearly one-note, are still played effectively. Biggs is Dustin, Tank’s (Cook) sweet, sensitive, innocent, and all around good guy roommate who is head-over-heels in five-week love with his co-worker Alexis (Kate Hudson, trying her best to kill the movie hand-in-hand with the screenplay), and in an attempt to convince her that she should go with “the good guy,” he hires Tank, a man whose hobby is similar to Hitch’s, but in a demonic jerk kind of way – after all, once girls realize that there are incredible jerks out there, they’ll want one of the good guys, right?

So remains the premise of the movie, which, when given a dozen chances, flatly refuses to go anywhere, always bringing it squarely back into boring old romcom territory – the ending, predictably, drags on twenty minutes pointlessly, and the writing is so clumsy that an overused romcom cliche screeches its way to the surface (completely unwarranted by what came before, of course) about five minutes before the end.

Alec Baldwin cameos as Tank’s sex-crazed father, a women’s studies college professor who bangs any admiring young co-ed who bends over in his plush office, and it’s honestly the highlight of the picture – when the screenplay stops reigning itself in and goes all out – giving the audience true crudity instead of the sophomoric kind. Baldwin also relishes the role – speaking in low classic Baldwin tones, squinting those Baldwin eyes, and in every way almost parodying the idea of this role and himself as an actor. Dane Cook basically plays a slightly toned down version of his father – and he’s finally good at something, he can jump from jerk to nice guy effortlessly and manages to make it seem believable the script’s impossibly-convenient character turns demand from him. It’s certainly way better than the nice guy he was trying to play himself off as in Good Luck Chuck (oh, shucks, I guess I gotta sleep with dozens of girls) – his free reign role as a jerk is nearly masterful.

So, surprisingly, My Best Friend’s Girl is not a complete tank (pun signed, sealed, and delivered), but it’s no Apatow affair either. It’s somewhere in between last year’s floppity-flop The Heartbreak Kid and this year’s Step Brothers, which isn’t saying much, but if you’ve been waiting to see Dane Cook in a role worth seeing, look no further than this maudlin and mediocre end-of-the summer comedy.

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Paul Newman, 1925- 2008

Posted in Celebrity News with tags , , on September 27, 2008 by Brandon

I have to confess to never really having followed his career. I remember seein Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and actually kind of liking it, which, back when I was less into old movies and more concerned about movies simply as a form of entertainment (I was thirteen or fourteen when I saw it). That’s saying a lot, because back then I really didn’t enjoy those “older” kinds of movies that much. Paul Newman was a fantastic actor, and the world will be little more empty without him.

Here’s the IMDB news release.

I’ve found the worst song in the Top 40.

Posted in Music Buzz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2008 by Brandon

And it’s by Rihanna, with her pathetic attempt at being profound and slow and different than her usual style. I’ve enjoyed most of her dance hits – Umbrella (ella ella ella), Pon de Replay, Disturbia, Shut up and Drive, Please Don’t Stop the Music, but with this new hit (along with her extremely unimpressive Unfaithful), she’s proven how much she should stay away from this kind of music and stick to what she’s good at – shallow, dance-driven poppy tunes. “Take A Bow” takes my award for most loathed song so far this year.

Because I refuse to embed this piece of musical crap on my website, here’s the link to a video of it on youtube.

Ohh, how about a round of applause
Yeah, standing ovation
Oooh ohh yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah

You look so dumb right now
Standing outside my house
Trying to apologize
You’re so ugly when you cry
Please, just cut it out

An’ don’t tell me you’re sorry ’cause you’re not
Baby when I know you’re only sorry you got caught

But you put on quite a show
Really had me going
But now it’s time to go
Curtain’s finally closing
That was quite a show
Very entertaining
But it’s over now (but it’s over now)
Go on and take a bow

Grab your clothes and get gone (get gone)
You better hurry up before the sprinklers come on
Talkin’ about, girl, I love you, you’re the one
This just looks like a re-run
Please, what else is on (ohh)

And don’t tell me you’re sorry ’cause you’re not
Baby when I know you’re only sorry you got caught

But you put on quite a show
Really had me going
But now it’s time to go
Curtain’s finally closing
That was quite a show
Very entertaining
But it’s over now (but it’s over now)
Go on and take a bow

Ohh, and the award for best liar goes to you
For making me believe that you could be faithful to me
Let’s hear your speech out

How about a round of applause
A standing ovation

But you put on quite a show
Really had me going
Now it’s time to go
Curtain’s finally closing
That was quite a show
Very entertaining
But it’s over now (but it’s over now)
Go on and take a bow

But it’s over now

All she does is repeat several lines ad nauseum and if you look closely, 85% of the song is written in cliches. “Take a bow” “Curtain’s finally closing” “That was quite a show (which she has the nerve to say twice – gah!) The music is even reminiscent of her other sound about being unfaithful to the one you’re with – “Unfaithful” (I know – her capacity for clever titles just boggles the mind). Defenders of Rihanna may say that with “Take a Bow”, her use of all the cliches is part of the point – how, in love, we all fall into the traps of some cliches , but that doesn’t seem to be the point at all – she’s just telling this one dude to just leave because he lied to her. And does she do it with any signifcant emotion in her voice? No. “You look so dumb right now” is the first line of the song. Zing! Dang, what a burn! After this guy has crushed her heart in her hands all she can come up with to do is cal him dumb and tell him he’s ugly when he cries, (“you’re so ugly when you cry” is the best line of the song, by far – it unearths deeper emotionality about the two players in the song than just “You put on quite a show, now leave.”

“But, Brandon, you’re not supposed to take this type of song seriously!”
Rihanna does – the music video makes that explicitly clear. Besides, serious or not, bad writing and bad music is bad writing and bad music, regardless. The entire beat of the song is a lazy-ass R&B jam that could easily be cut and pasted onto a dozen of Rihanna’s lesser effortts and dozens upon dozens of completely forgettable (and forgotten) hip-hop and R&B hits.

One of the reasons I enjoy hip-hop is that most of the time is because its talented players (people like 50 Cent, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Akon) are self-consciously aware of how the whole “party, girls, party, in da club” mentality of much of hip hop is kind of ridiculous – so they play with it, morph it, transform it into clever lyrics that almost subtly make fun of the incredibly selfish mentality that comes along with making it in that kind of world – people expect you to rap and sing about yourself and how awesome it is to get girls and go to clubs all the time – and the best hip hop and R&B artists are those who understand it’s all kind of a game (Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” is a prime example of this a song so gloriously over-the-top and unapologetically self-centered that it soared to the top ten and stayed there for months), and spend their times making cool beats and clever rhymes and rhythms.

With “Take A Bow”, Rihanna has made a major fumble. It also sounds too similar to Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable from a couple of years ago. (Whose clever lyrics, catchy tune, and can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head one-liner “To the left.” Beyonce has “to the left.” JT has “Sexy Back.” Kanye has “Stronger.” Akon had “Smack that” for awhile. It’s all part of a culture that’s fascinating to me, and Rihanna seems completely clueless to this culture with her dopey high school “love” ballad.

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’m planning on posting more soon. I’m in the process of getting a new computer, and The Office and Heroes Season Premieres were on this past week – so I’m planning on writing reviews that cover those. Until then, take a bow, my readers, and get your sexy on.

And now for something a little different…

Posted in Philosophy with tags , , , , on September 22, 2008 by Brandon

During this past summer, I have come to reaize how much more personal this blog is to me than I initially believed. I thought it was just something that I posted online that related to movies, but it’s become slightly more than that to me, to be honest. Nobody wants to simply read about movies all the time, just some of the time (I think I’m probaby one of the few people who wouldn’t mind reading about movies all the time), so I’m expanding the original intent of this blog into something a little more encompassing – I will no longer simply be talking about movies, but philosophical and anthropological and sociological concepts as related to pop culture, movies, the media, and the like.

It’s my blog, so I can do what I want. Nyah.

And with this introduction of something new I’ve come to a startling revelation that will most likely be greeted by a explosion of “well DUHs!”

Youtube has a feature that tracks the websites that link your video elsewhere, where it’s embeded or where it’s linked to. Sometimes it’s just a site that happens to be linking to youtube. Other times, though, it’s a site that’s more personal, like a blog, or a xanga, if you will.

MadPimpVince

Somebody apparently really liked my youtube review of Southland Tales. Well, it is my second rated video (yes, more than a thousand views, be very jealous everyone *whisper*sarcasm*whisper*). Anyways, this dude said my review summed up everything beautifully. I’m not trying to be arrogant here (looking back on that review I see a lot of flaws with it, as any writer should looking back on work that’s not published and more than a few months (heck, a few weeks) old), what I’m trying ot say is this is in some sense the first direct impact I’ve felt from my videos on youtube – mostly I was just used to dealing with text comments on youtube, which I don’t often take too seriously, given the context and the ease of use, but when someone links to you on your blog, and they’re not calling you a moron, that means something that didn’t exist even necessarily five years ago. And in some sense, by linking my blog back to his xanga that was linked to my video on youtube that’s linked to this very blog, I’ve completed a digital circle, and in some larger sense, that’s what the digital community is all about.

Good night, ladies and gentlemen, I’m out.

An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

Posted in Internet Links with tags , , on September 21, 2008 by Brandon

This guy talks all about what I’ve been saying for years – the internet is a hell of a lot more fascinating place than a lot of people give it credit for. Many people view it as a time-waster, a place where you just titter away hours of your day doing basically nothing – fie on these people, I say. It’s some kind of strangely disconnnective/connective postmodern tissue in which our lives inextricably hang.

On a side note, my computer is broken, which is why I have not been keeping up to date on my posting. I’m hoping to start up more soon, though, and I’m planning on getting a new computer before the end of year – a Mac, unfortunately, I have finally capitulated to the establishment, but I figured – why not? My dad knows computers very well, and he says for someone like me, someone who would use the computer mostly for writing and surfing the web, it would work just fine.

Watch the video, it’s fascinating.

Spider-Man 4 and 5!

Posted in Movie Buzz with tags , , , , on September 21, 2008 by Brandon

Well, with this new news finally confirmed, my Spidey sense can rest pretty easily once again. Yup, Sam Raimi is going to be directing the new one, and the inimitable Tobey Maguire is back as well. I liked Spider-Man 3 more than most people did, but they could have done better, and with this new one it looks like they’ll only be using one villain (please be the lizard please be the lizard please be the lizard (though the spidey slayeres would be cool – add an entirely different character arc and dimension to an already beloved character), which will greatly ease the great big traffic jam that the third film essentially was. And better yet, the Zodiac screenwriter (my number two favorite of last year), is going to be writing! The script was fantastic (if a little long – too long for a Spidey film, but I’m confident it’ll work out) and developed strong characters and had a tension-filled narrative. I’m hoping this new writer brings Spidey back to his glory days with Doc Ock. And please, in this one MJ and Peter better be either permanently broken up or permanently together – this wiffle-waffel worked in the comic books – but movies forgive repetition a lot less easily.

They’re being filmed concurrently and the date for 4 is set for 2011.