Author Archives: The Cinephiliac
Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) are two watch salesmen once known for their innate ability to sell anything to anyone, even “prosciutto to a Rabbi.” However, their bubble of success is popped when the duo is fired by their boss (John Goodman). Their situation goes from bad to worse when Billy finds out his home has been foreclosed on, causing his much younger girlfriend to leave him. The two men realize they are at odds with a booming world of technology that no longer sees them as relevant.
Without jobs or hope, the men part ways to find trade in smaller forms. Until Billy decides he and his buddy should reach for the stars by applying for a job at Google. Despite their lack of technical prowess, the lure of an office equipped with slides, free food, and all the primary colors the human eye can stomach, causes them to take the opportunity to work as interns in hopes that it will lead to a dream pie in the sky career. And hooray for us viewers who get to watch the stale hijinks transpire in the meantime.
The fact that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, two stars whom enjoyed the fruits of success in the days of yesteryear, but recently haven’t been able to enjoy the same triumph, star in a film as characters attempting to make a comeback from failure in a time of new opportunities and talent is like… what’s the word I’m looking for? You know, when it’s like rain on your wedding day? Or a free ride, though you’ve already paid? And yes, The Internship makes unfortunate use of a song that didn’t truly know the definition of the word “irony” either.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle… it’s too easy.
There are two things that I enjoyed most about The Internship. One was being able to see what it’s like to work for one of the world’s biggest corporations. For years I’ve envied the lucky few that get to call the child-like atmosphere of Google their job. The Internship shows that working at Google seems like what I’ve long expected it to be like, and that’s working in the play area of McDonald’s minus the badass ball pit. The second best thing is the film’s closing credits, an impressive accumulation of credits manifested through all the patented Google constituents like Hangout, Google Plus, Translate, and Images.
You know what my least favorite thing about a comedy is? When it’s not funny. I can count on one hand the number of times The Internship mustered a mere chuckle from me; four. The script definitely delivers its share of trite, bland jokes and irrelevant nods to 80s films, along with some moments of ridiculous improvised banter. Yet, nearly every joke falls flatter than the lamest Family Guy skit. In fact, anyone who laughs throughout The Internship is someone I honestly don’t want to know. Our time together would be undoubtedly monotonous and unenjoyable.
The Internship is one the most stereotypically mundane films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s delivery is so generic that in this day and age you should be tarred and feathered for attempting to make a profit off of stock plot devices and generic motifs like this. I knew The Internship’s conflicts, solutions, and ending 20 minutes into watching it. And I was ten minutes late! You know every main character in the film’s beginning through obvious, repeated close ups on the same few people. It’s obvious when you’re supposed to feel empowered due to the power chords being played during an uplifting speech, while despondent guitar strings are introduced when you’re supposed to feel another character’s pain. Instead of forcing emotion down our throat, director and writer Shawn Levy, along with his co-writer Vince Vaughn, should have just focused more on the individual characters and story, enough to incite a genuine reaction.
Let’s just keep drinking to forget how ridiculous this whole story is. Cheers!
Which leads to my biggest issue with The Internship; the implausibility of the script. Is it an impossible premise? Definitely not. Is it highly improbable? God yes! How two bumbling doofuses with no job, a foreclosed home, a credit score in the negatives, and in their 40s with little work experience find themselves at an esteemed corporation worth billions of dollars after bombing the interview process, which they did from a computer in a public library while openly bribing children to leave them alone, on top of bombing their first week of training, yet still get to stay and take advantage of the fruits of being an intern makes my head hurt. Plus how are they paying bills?
Aside from the paper thin plot, we are forced to watch a group of kids who are less developed than their perceptibly terrible social lives. In a typical nerdy misfit fashion, the group consists of a virgin, an overly dominated mama’s boy, a rebel without a hint of a clue or reason, and the typical socially awkward geek. No one discusses why they want to work at Google or what it is about technology that tickles their fancy more than the real world. Instead, to them it’s just a job that they want because they’re geeks who are good with algorithms and programming.
The element of the film that completely halts any lick of momentum it could possibly have is the unnecessary, and frankly boring, romance aspect between Nick and a hardworking, desperate for a family co-worker, Dana (Rose Bryne), who tells him from them start that she has no desire to date him. But hey, we know how that goes in most films. Ladies, let’s be real, who wouldn’t risk years of hard work that got you to the top of your company for some old guy you’ve only known for about two months? Just Dana and I? Well, with my dad complex that seems about right.
The Internship is just pabulum. The concept could have lended itself to an entertaining romp about two men making it back on their feet, but the film’s lack of comedy, sense, or any bit of individuality spares any type of enjoyment. There’s an interesting discussion on the lack of opportunities for twentysomethings despite what parents of older generations think that I as a twentysomething found interesting, however, it’s not fleshed out enough for anyone to take the argument seriously. Instead, The Internship proves itself to be nothing more than waste of valuable footage and space, much like the present careers of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Take a Drink: every time Flashdance is referenced.
Take a Drink: every time a character asks “what?” to another.
Take a Drink: every time a character rambles on aimlessly for more than a 20 seconds.
Take a Drink: every time someone drinks a Miller Lite vortex bottle.
If you consider yourself a film buff or someone that is in any way passionate about film, chances are you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. If not, it’s probably sitting in your Netflix queue right now. Not viewing this film is like a clergyman having never read The Bible, a communist having never laid eyes on the Communist Manifesto, an art connoisseur having never seen a Monet, or a janitor having never used a broom. Watching 2001 is just part of your duty as a self-respecting lover of cinema.
Does that mean you’ll love it? It’s possible you won’t, but what’s so brilliantly enigmatic about 2001 is that it’s not about liking or disliking it. The experience alone is about being able to appreciate what it has done as a forerunner in cinema and more so as a work of art. Whether you “get it” or not, you can’t deny its mesmerizing affect and find sheer awe in its magnitude of experimentation.
Historically, the first time beings went crazy over an object that was long, hard, and black.
2001 opens to a vast, barren land in which viewers watch the activities of a group of apes whose very existence is threatened by predators and a rival group that bullies them away from their watering hole, their eminent life source. After a strange monolith appears before the group of threatened apes, they seem to evolve overnight as the leader realizes a bone from a carcass can be used as a weapon. When the apes are again threatened by their rivals at the waterhole, the now mentally improved apes weld the bone against the face of the rival gang’s leader, killing him and claiming the watering hole for themselves.
Ecstatic, the apes rejoice and their leader triumphantly throws his bone into the air. We follow the bone slowly up into the sky where it is match-cut with a space ship, transporting viewers millions of years into the future and the film’s new setting. In space, we are slowly but surely brought up to speed about strange occurrences taking place on the Moon due to a 4 million-year-old monolith on its surface. It is further revealed that this monolith is sending signals to Jupiter. The story then shifts to explore the battle between a group of mission scientists and the ship’s arrogant, malfunctioning operating system, HAL, as they travel farther into the abyss of space to Jupiter for answers.
“Damn it Hal, you sank my battle ship!”
There have been articles, essays, and even books written about 2001: A Space Odyssey to explain it’s greatness and understand it’s blooming complexities. Therefore, anything I praise doesn’t nearly scratch the surface of what this film offers. But alas, I take the duty because I believe it’s a film that should constantly be poked and prodded because it’s still relevant by today’s standards.
Kubrick created a film so ahead of its time in 1968 that today, almost 50 years after its release, there has yet to be a science fiction film to trump 2001’s greatness (although the Star Wars trilogy was arguably close). Nearly every science fiction film that looks to space as the backdrop for its story owes its inspiration to 2001. Sci-fi films made in the past few decades are still simply attempting to touch the hem of 2001’s cloak, hoping its glory will magically rub off on them to make it better; see Oblivion and Moon for starting examples.
But alas, no film has yet to have the luck and know-how to achieve its greatness, and that’s because 2001′s portrayal of the evolution of man and technology is explored in such esoteric, complex ways that to make something of equal or greater thought-provoking value would require massive amounts of hallucinogens to unlock the parts of the human brain even capable of being able to fathom how. Those parts of the brain just don’t work under normal circumstances.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that seems to have been created by an otherworldly being. Something that has seen the depths of the space-time continuum and that thinks in terms of past, present, and future. A being that can see into the 4th dimension. 2001 works on a level that attempts to promote and expand human thought, so if your goal when watching films is to shut your brain off, then 2001 isn’t the type of film you should be watching.
That being said, I think it’s pretty sane and logical to praise Kubrick as a deity, or god among men, due to his work on 2001. A perfectionist who exhausted his efforts to make nearly every shot he filmed visually immaculate, Kubrick’s labor of love and ingenuity in 2001 transcends the very filmstrip on which it was filmed. Kubrick’s magnificently epic set design roots itself in a 1960s vision of the future which creates the most aesthetically pleasing vision of the future yet, complete with bright primary colors and smooth rounded structures.
If I weren’t color blind, this trip would be so much cooler.
Now, as a history buff and Ancient Alien enthusiast, the implications that Kubrick’s outlandish script raises are enough to give me brain aneurysm. 2001’s opening sequence feels as though a curtain to the past has been drawn back in order for viewers to witness Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest take place before our very eyes better than any film has before. At the same time, Kubrick created a vision of the future set in both reality and striking imagination. Some of the film’s elements, like passengers on a plane watching a movie while flying, have come true. Yet our ability to do that comfortably in space has yet to be tweaked. Kubrick pushed for humans to embrace the future of technology, yet also fear its repercussions.
And whether you realize it in the moment or not, your life will change after you experience “Jupiter and the Infinite Beyond.” The sheer brilliance of the near 10 minute sequence is like seeing the face of god through film; the changing colors, the breathtaking visual effects, the quick edits, the intense soundtrack, the patterns… excuse me, I need go change my pants.
Watching 2001: A Space Odyssey is like starting into a lava lamp. If you’re open minded enough, you’ll turn off the lights, get comfortable in your snuggie, and let the images you see floating before your eyes wash over you as you fall into a transcendental head space. You may come away with new ways of viewing the world or mentally taking in new concepts. However, it’s possible that your brain works in ways that find it silly and pointless to see psychedelic images in lava lamps. 2001 may not be your cup of tea, but any open mind should be able to notice and appreciate its physical beautiful and influence in not just on cinema, but society as whole.
Take a Drink: every time the music swells into an epic piece.
Do a Shot: when the music turns into a shrill, nearly unbearable pitch.
Take a Drink: when red is a scene’s major color
Take a Drink: every time we see the monolith
Take a Drink: every time the setting changes.
Do a shot: for everything Kubrick predicted of the future. Skype anyone?
After the events that took place in The Avengers, billionaire playboy and mechanical genius Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has finally settled down as a slightly changed man with the love of his life Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Unfortunately for Tony, he is far from adjusting to the simple life, instead, staying up days at a time to work on his “hobbies” that include perfecting a militia of suits with the help of his voice-operated right hand man, Jarvis. While domestic life has promises of bliss, Tony is also beginning to suffer from panic attacks and nightmares that revolve around the battle that happened in New York. On top of that, there’s a new threat to America, The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), a homicidal terrorist with goals of dismantling America by killing the President and attacking cities with a new bomb technology not seen before. Tony quickly learns that the past is the worst kind of ghost that can haunt someone.
Will the real Iron Man please stand up? I repeat, will the real Iron Man please stand up.
Iron Man 3 is easily the best film of the franchise, for more reasons than one. Directed by Shane Black, who is also one half of the screenplay writing team, Iron Man 3 embodies a powerhouse trifecta that makes a great blockbuster film: action, emotion, and humor. Black’s directorial debut was the feverishly fast-paced, hilarious Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a sleuth story with more twists and turns than the Stelvio Pass of Italy and a keen wit to match. Black is also responsible for one of the greatest buddy cop films in existence, Lethal Weapon. The same impudent wit featured in the aforementioned film is strongly present in Iron Man 3’s script from the first opening line to the last scene.
Much of that rambling wit is owed to Robert Downey Jr., who was born to play Tony Stark— or better yet Downey was born to play himself, which I assume just so happens to be in the same likeness of Tony Stark. An arrogant asshole with a sly comeback for every situation, Tony Stark wins as the cinematically coolest superhero in the Marvel universe despite his crippling insensitivity and ego. When Tony’s happenstance 8-year-old apprentice, Harland, reveals to him that his father left him when he was a toddler, Tony replies, “Dad’s leave, there’s no need to be a pussy about it.” You just can’t hate a guy with that much heart… it’s just not possible.
“Are you there God? It’s me, Tony… I’m so effing cold right now.”
Though Downey is the film’s incumbent highlight, he’s surrounded by a wonderful cast whose performances are equally impressive. Don Cheadle returns as Colonel Larry Rhodes, Iron Man’s lovable semi-sidekick, while Guy Pierce shines as Aldrich Killian, an evil former run-in of Tony. Even Gwyneth Paltrow does a great job of giving her sweet and dainty Pepper a bad-ass edge. But hats should go off to Sir Ben Kingsley for his wonderfully menacing, yet hilarious portrayal of The Mandarin.
Co-written with Drew Pearce, Iron Man 3 is funny, but has a sinister dark edge to it that sent shivers down my spine as I genuinely feared for the safety of the characters at the hands of the film’s brutal villains. Iron Man 3 roots itself in a reality that hits close to home as the villains are terrorists whose weapons of choice are semi “self-bombers” whose explosions can obliterate anyone and thing within a few mile radius. At times, scenes are constructed in ways that call to mind images of war, like flashes of newscasters rapidly discussing the terrorists’ activities and The Mandarin’s creepy video footage where he addresses the public intercut with scenes of him shooting AK-47’s similar to footage of Osama Bin Laden. Also in one scene when missiles fire on Tony’s home, I couldn’t help but think of the real life footage of Apache helicopters firing on Iraqi citizens, making the threat of The Mandarin all the more real and uncomfortable.
Iron Man 3 is a fantastic ride with thrills and chills, and some deep belly laughs. It’s a perfect end to an entertaining franchise that leaves a cathartic feeling at the end. The world of technology explored within the film is mind-blowing, yet easy to comprehend, making for some interesting correlations between the interworkings of the brain with the outerworkings of the universe. My only complaints would be that at times the editing is a bit sluggish, which does a disservice to the choreographed combat scenes, and also the film tends to meander on at times. However, these are just minor hiccups that don’t take away from the overall fascinating and entertaining momentum of the film. The only way Iron Man 3 can be ruined is if they make a 4th one. Which is completely unnecessary, so you stop those damn rumors right now Hollywood! NOW!
Take a Drink: every time a character dies but regenerates back to life.
Take a Drink: every time someone mentions what happened in New York.
Take a Drink: every time Tony has a panic attack.
Do a Shot: for every scene that references “Downton Abbey.”
Take a Drink: every time Happy reminds someone about their badge.
Imagine waking up in a room, enclosed with equal sides all around, with no recollection of how you got there. With you are about five other people, some already awake, others in the process of emerging from sleep. You fervently rub your eyes and try to swallow that rising bubble of panic in your throat as the realization hits, you aren’t dreaming. There are hatches on each wall that wind open and almost immediately you, along with the confused others, are attempting to escape through the exits. Yet, through some of these openings you are confronted with uncertain death as you witness the poor bastard who by chance walked into another room before you get his face dissolved by acid. The only thing to do now is attempt to figure out a pattern that will enable an escape route in the seemingly endless rubix cube that you find yourself trapped in. Thus is the plot of Vincenzo Natali’s Cube.
Cube’s premise is fairly unique, a fact that I can’t help but respect. Natali mixes subtle horror, thrilling tension, and tops it with an existential allegory about the meaning of life, incorporating it all into a puzzle that’s hard to decipher and furthermore lacks any explanation, forcing viewers to endure the pain of ignorance just as Cube’s characters have to. Of the six people stuck in a room together, some come and go while viewers can’t help but feel a slight visceral fear deep down as Natali’s framing and camerawork directly places us in each small cubic room that the characters find themselves in. Through fabulous set design, the air of tension and pressure is almost unbearable. At times, seeing characters perspire in their hot, enclosed space nearly put beads of sweat on my forehead.
Though the idea of Cube is commendable, its execution is severely weak. Some of that can be chalked up to its 90s-ness, but most of that is because of Natali’s amateur directing and John Sanders’s shoddy editing. The film loses its punch due to disorienting moments of capturing action. During the film’s climatic final act the editing becomes unbearable. As characters rush to leave the cube and encounter the manic rage of a member, it’s hard to even decipher what is happening and how due to the camera whipping around and scenes barely playing out in their entirety before revealing the following consequence. By the end, I was more confused as to what happened in the cube than what was going on outside of it.
What is going on inside this place? Seriously… what? I can’t keep up with all the half-assed edits.
In high school, I was in drama club. Unfortunately, because our school believed in putting its money and support into our football team more than most of the extracurricular activities, the theater department suffered, becoming the forgotten red-headed stepchild of activities. Our club leader was the school’s cheerleading coach, a job that required her to miss about 90% of our practices and meetings, prompting the 12 of us in the department to coach ourselves in a crappy one act play we were involved in about the dangers of drugs. For whatever reason, we thought we were good enough to participate in a regional competition in which we placed 6th place out of five teams (the 6th team never showed up). In short, we sucked.
However, had Natali directed his cast from Cube in the competition with us, I’m sure they’d become the reigning losers in 7th place. The acting in Cube is awful, worse than whatever bullcrap emotions we tried to muster up as 16-year-olds. For starters, Maurice Dean Wint as police officer and de factor leader, Quentin, tries really hard, but his bug-eyed angry performance caused me to burst out laughing numerous times instead of taking his slow decline into raging insanity seriously.
“Over acting? Well somebody’s gotta make up for the lack of talent in this cast!”
The worst character, however, is Nicole de Boer as Leaven. Casting director Deirdre Bowen deserves to be called out directly and shamed for bringing Boer on board. In fact, Natali’s decision to cast Boer must have been because of her casting couch skills. I’ve never hated a character within the first 10 minutes of meeting them in a film unless I was supposed to, and in Cube I wasn’t meant to. Boer makes her book-wormish, intellectual character so much of a see-you-next-Tuesday that throughout the entire film I was praying she’d be the next to meet a brutal death. All of her lines are delivered with an unnecessary sass, as though she has an asshole with a chip on its shoulder attached to her mouth. Also, her emotional scenes are worse than watching a child fake cry in a mirror, while the fear she attempts to convey seems as though she believed her danger came from standing up in a cardboard box as opposed to being trapped in steel one.
The biggest disappointing factor of Cube is that by the end we learn little to nothing about why or how these people came to be trapped in the cube. We get a slight explanation of why it was created and the randomness of its existence, but it all seems contradictory considering the film spends much of its time focusing on pointing out the specific abilities and skill sets that each character brings to the table, leading us to believe that there is a distinct reason everyone is there. To argue that there simply isn’t one would be as if Alice in Wonderland ended right when the red queen wanted off with Alice’s head, without Lewis Carroll ever revealing it was all a dream. The whole story is pointless nonsense otherwise.
I liked the idea of Cube and I respect its attempt to be a thought-provoking psychological thriller. Despite its 90s cheesiness, it’s an intriguing film to watch if you’ve never seen it before. Yet, to treat it like it is something completely innovative and new is an injustice to previous stories of the type that have been done right. “The Twilight Zone” episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” has virtually the same plot and structure as Cube. Nevertheless, “The Twilight Zone” happened to tell a powerfully unique story with an explanation of why these poor souls are trapped in their situation and also delivers an adequate conclusion in about 22 minutes. A task that apparently took Cube three films to do.
Take a Drink: every time Kazan freaks out and starts yelling.
Take a Drink: every time a color is mentioned
Take a Drink: every time there’s a play on words, i.e. “Is that your two cents worth, Worth?” “For what it’s worth.”
Take a Drink: every time Quentin loses his shit.
Take a Drink: for every room with a trap.
It hurts when you discover your favorite childhood film is actually an uncovered piece of turd baking in the sun. Rock-a-doodle was great when you were a kid? Good luck watching that again today. Good Burger was hilarious back in the day? Try getting through it not and not wanted to punch everyone involved. You thought D2: The Mighty Ducks was the best film out of the entire trilogy when you were younger? Oh cruel world, when will this trickery end? I was beyond excited to rewatch D2, of which the Disney Channel-recorded version had long been on constant repeat in my VCR as an adolescent.
Sure, it was going to be a bit cheesy the way a lot of films of the past are, but I couldn’t wait to be reunited with the Bash Brothers and learn how to defend myself on the ice by street hockey players from South Central L.A. All the seemingly unnecessary characters from the first film are now replaced by cooler more diverse youth from all over America. The favorites are back, Connie and Guy are probably definitely banging, Charlie’s hair is still terribly quaffed, and “All That” cast member Keenan Thompson joins the ranks. I thought the trip down memory lane would be a purely fulfilling one, until that trip ended with the car swerving into a head-on collision with the reality of 2013.
D2 takes place a year or so after the original. Coach Gordon Bombay is back in Minnesota after a string with the Minors. He was this close to getting into the NHL, but a busted knee from an opponent soured his chances. Now back home, The Goodwill Games’ (Ted Turner’s response to the 1980 boycott of the Summer Olympics) Team USA, along with their sponsors, Hendrix, needs a coach. Gordon is chosen and with the help of Charlie rounds up his old hockey gang, The Ducks. Five new players join the team and they are moved out to California where they prepare to battle the best team in the league, Team Iceland. Gordon must whip the group back into shape, balancing out the differing dynamics while also attempting to not become sucked into the lavish lifestyle that comes with being sponsored.
Keenan Thompson. I feel very much at odds saying the saving grace of this film just so happens to be one of my least favorite “SNL” cast members today, but Keenan carries D2 on his back easier then it is for him to break character and laugh on “SNL.” Keenan was simply awesome in the 90s. He proved his talent from the beginning as a witty, charismatic kid with great comedic timing and an adorable face. For whatever reason, though, he’s pulled a Benjamin Button, aging backwards in talent as his career has expanded, but that’s an argument for a different time. As Russ, the street smart, loud-mouth youth constantly busting Team USA’s balls until he ultimately gets drafted on their team, Keenan easily has the film’s funniest lines and best moments that still stand the test of almost 20 years…. Jesus I’m old.
Who knew he’d never be able to stay in character again.
D2 it just so cheesy it might as well be fondue. My significant other put it rather perfectly when he questioned how D2 wasn’t a direct to video movie. When we’re not listening to the 90’s family score frequently used in films of the time, we have to endure corny sound effects like the “whiiip” “whoop whoop” and “booiings” of things and people flying through the air. It’s virtually watching a live action film with sound effects by the “The Animanics” or “Looney Tunes.” And good luck sitting through the handful of montages you thought were cool when you were seven and not vomiting into your mouth. At one point, the group takes a break to relax and have fun after a hard scrimmage. We are treated to the irritating sounds of a honkey-tonk song belting the words “let’s work together” as the team awkwardly dance to show they’re having fun.
I had to break the news to my childhood best friend that our beloved movie was nothing more than an idiotic mistake we made when we were younger. After she cursed at me for my blasphemy, she couldn’t find an answer when I asked her what she remembered about D2 that was funny. We both struggled; I even quickly went back to watch parts I loved as a silly youth and honestly there just aren’t many. Cut out Russ, and you’re left with jokes that revolve around cowboy newcomer, Dwayne’s, ignorance as a fish out of water and people getting whacked and bonked, and I don’t mean Tony Soprano style. Mighty Ducks at least had a few good jokes; when someone asks a kid where his mother is, he responds, “I don’t know, she’s busy with the mail man.” In D2 the jokes are pretty much nonexistent and the ones that are there are just flat out shit.
“You’re only here because you’re from the South and dumb hicks are always good to laugh at!”
Barely any time is spent with the team to fully explore who they are as individuals and what being on Team USA represents for them. Instead, we become acquainted with a bunch of half-assed hockey players who are only one trick ponies. These kids came to represent America as the best junior players in the country? Bullshit! How does a kid from Austin, Texas who ropes cattle for a living even get into hockey? How does a kid from Miami, Florida who can’t even control his skating make the team? I get if sometimes he flubs up, but ALL the time? Where is Jesse’s brother Terry? Or his ever so supportive father who used to attend every game. Team USA is basically competing in the Olympics and no family members show up?
I never noticed before, but Emilio Estevez is a pretty terrible actor in Mighty Ducks films. I chalk his less than mediocre abilities up to Botox as his eyebrows hardly ever move throughout the film. Estevez plays Gordon with hardly any voice fluctuation, a bare minimum of emotion, with lifeless eyes, and an overall bland presence. Melting ice would be more fascinating to watch. The man even makes slapstick unfunny!
“I guess I gotta drink milk tonight, do my taxes, inject more Botox and catch up on those infomercials.”
In the 90’s, D2 was cool, I don’t know why or how. Maybe it was just the era we were in that made it funny. Perhaps it was simply because I was young and it was a movie about other young kids having fun participating in a novel sport. Or, maybe all the Nickelodeon and Disney we engulfed as children turned out brains into mush– hell, we were a generation that only a few years later made “Cotton Eyed Joe” by Redex and “Blue” by Eiffel 65 international hits. Things were different back then. Call it being jaded, cynical, or just older, but Mighty Ducks: D2 was simply heartbreaking to rewatch. Do yourself a favor, save those nostalgic treasures in your memories where they belong.
Take a Drink: every time you endure a montage.
Take a Drink: every time Dwight yells “yeehaw.”
Take a Drink: every time a character reacts irrationally, i.e. Dean’s locker room meltdown.
Take a Drink: every time a fight starts.
Do a Shot: if you laugh.
Sports was never my thing. In fact, it wasn’t until Wayne Gretsky gained popularity in the early 1990′s and The Mighty Ducks came out that I was even aware that playing hooky and hockey were two different things. Like most kids weaned on 90s culture, The Mighty Ducks trilogy was a franchise of divine caliber. In fact, my best friends and I reverted to our childhood devotion of the franchise when the advent of the Internet introduced us to steamy fanfiction and fan sites dedicated in the cast’s honor. Rewatching The Mighty Ducks now in my older age gives me slight comfort in the fact that it’s still a pretty good, heartwarming film, but I’m also reminded that it didn’t take much to impress kids in those days.
It’s the final quarter of the Pee Wee championship and the Hawks are one point away from taking home the glory. With seconds left on the clock, the fate of game is on the shoulders of 9-year-old Gordon Bombay. Through slow motion scenes that intercut with the opening titles, we see little Gordon raise his stick, shoot the puck, and miss the winning shot, proving it to be a class A bomb…bay. A single shot of little Gordon reveals him slumped in a heap of disappointment on the ice with a puff of defeated breath faltering through the air. The sadness is heartbreaking. Fast forward two decades later and Gordon is a savvy, asshole lawyer who doesn’t care what it takes to win as long as he does. After getting pulled over for driving under the influence, Gordon is suspended from work and required to do community service which entails coaching the District 5 hockey team. Unfortunately, the team is filled with rambunctious children who spend their days hustling people, playing practical jokes, and being awful at playing hockey. It’s up to Gordon to take the ragtag group of misfits and turn them into a winning group of Mighty Ducks.
Keeping it real for rich white dudes saving inner city kid’s lives through hockey everywhere.
The Mighty Ducks is good, clean fun with a cast of zany kids to help the corniness of the film seem bearable. Joshua Jackson is absolutely adorable with his Doris Day mullet as Charlie Conway, a fatherless kid looking for a dad in Gordon. The other lovable tots include Jessie (Brandon Adams), the street smart rebel of the group, Averman (Matt Doherty), the Wayne’s World-quoting rambler, Goldberg (Shaun Weiss), the greatest Jewish goalie in existence, that one kid that was in Heavyweights, that chick who later starred in Wet Hot American Summer (Marquerite Moreau), that one kid that looks like that bully from A Christmas Story, and well you get the point. Even if they are only given about 10 minutes of screen time, every character is given a time to shine and a memorable joke or moment.
Sadly, there’s nothing more to The Mighty Ducks then it just being your run of the mill sports drama that uses all the exact same conventions of other films in its caliber. The stereotypes of each character are flamboyantly displayed. The District 5 team isn’t just bad, they’re terrible. Gordon doesn’t start the film a slight asshole, but instead a full blown sphincter, so much so that prior to his DUI he’s speeding down an icy road drinking a beer at the wheel, blasting rock music with a license plate that says “Just Win.” Hawks coach Jack Reilly isn’t just a hard-nosed, competitive coach determined to win, instead he’s a sick in the head miser willing to endanger the lives of 9-year-olds for the sake of a PEE WEE TITLE.
Little known fact: Charlie Sheen’s media frenzy and the term “winning” was inspired by his older brother’s character in The Mighty Ducks.
The Mighty Ducks simply has no alarms and no surprises. I do adore it, but that’s mostly due to nostalgic reasons. I can’t imagine how bland it would be for someone watching it for the first time today, with its outdated jokes, poorly edited scenes, over-exaggerated character stereotypes, and a plot so predictable that there’s no need for your heart to race at the end or to expect anything other than the obvious to happen. If you’ve seen any sports film about a coach who has to whip a group of misfits into shape then you’ve seen The Mighty Ducks, just done much better.
Much better indeed.
The Mighty Ducks is 90′s as hell, but still a great film that made me want to cheer and yell at the end as though I hadn’t seen it 433 times… although I’m sure my reaction came from seeing it 433 times. A critical analysis of something so personal is kind of hard as initially I wanted to give it a toast because of the history I have with it. Despite my critiques, I will always love the first two films and only D3: The Mighty Ducks like a red headed stepchild, but that’s because I’m a duck, always and forever and ducks fly together!
Take a Drink: every time ridiculous soft lighting and sepia tones tell you it’s a flashback moment.
Take a Drink: every time Jessie gives Adam an “eat shit” look
Take a Drink: say it together; “Goldberg!”
Take a Drink: every time you forget about a teammate.
Take a Drink: every time you think “Hey, I remember that kid!”
There’s a scene in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers that almost perfectly embodies the overall experience of the film: Alien (James Franco), a rapper and drug dealer, sits on a white baby grand piano preparing to do a cover of a song by an “angel on earth if there ever was one,” Britney Spears. Surrounding him are three girls with assault rifles in hand and pink ski masks covering their faces. Clad in bikini tops and sweatpants with the phrase “DTF” on the backs, the girls listen intently as he sings “Everytime.” The scene then transforms into a group sing-a-long intercut by the non-diegetic sound of Britney Spears’ “Everytime” playing over a montage of the girls and Alien robbing and beating tourists and fellow spring breakers. If that doesn’t pique your interest in this semi art-house, exploitation film, then be forewarned, Spring Breakers is not for you.
Faith (Selena Gomez) is a church going teenager who finds herself uninspired by bible studies and group devotions, feigning her way through songs of praise. On the opposite end, her childhood friends; Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and Brit (Ashley Benson), are bored with college and their listless, one streetlight town and long for an uninhibited escape during spring break. Low on funds, Candy and Brit decide to rob a local restaurant using Cotty as a getaway driver. Decked in sweatshirts and ski masks the girls take fake guns and a hammer into the restaurant shouting obscenities and threats while smashing a whole mess load of tables to get the money. They succeed and we follow the quartet to Florida as they revel in flowing booze, horny youth, and wild parties. But, when they are arrested with a slew of party goers, their bail is paid by the grill wearing, cornrow having Alien, an eccentric rapper who sees something special in the girls. The girls, some reluctantly, follow Alien down a rabbit hole of debauchery they could never imagine.
Hit me baby, one more time.
Spring Breakers is from the mind of Harmony Korine, a mind that showed audiences the grimy life of poor youth in Xenia, Ohio in Gummo. His script for the 90s drama, Kids, exposed the shenanigans of a group of 15-year-olds in New York City who spend their time skateboarding, devirginizing young girls, and infecting each other with AIDS. Korine is renowned for his films that escape into a world of crazed lunacy that exposes the lives of marginalized people, be it a Michael Jackson impersonator (Mister Lonely), a schizophrenic youth (Julien Donkey Boy), a group of degenerates who find pleasure in humping trash (Trash Humper’s), or a clique of women who fetishize violence in Spring Breakers.
Korine captures the unseen debauchery of college kids who vacation in Florida during spring break better than any MTV special could. In a day glo, super glitzy style we see students drink themselves into oblivion, show anyone batting an eye their breasts, degrade each other through a number of drinking games, do massive amounts of blow, yet find comfort and sometimes spiritual awakening in being surrounded by others who enjoy doing the same.
The growing feminist within me was initially appalled at the way women were represented in Spring Breakers, however, I became conflicted as that very same feminist saw a world freedom and escape for some of these women. The main quartet of girls are never taken advantage of. Instead they make the rules choosing to drink heavily, flirt with whomever they please, and have casual sex. To pretend that these women don’t exist or argue that there is something innately wrong with them is a fallacy of society. These girls long for the freedom to express their sexuality and enjoy a bit of hedonistic pleasure the way a man gets to.
It’s all about women’s rights bitches!
The problem with the girls we follow isn’t their willingness to partake in decadence, it’s how stimulating violence becomes to the ones who choose to stay with Alien. Spring Breakers shifts halfway in to show audiences a pair of girls that are empowered by living in a man’s world and controlling situations the way they see men do. The girls take advantage of their gender by using their sexuality as a means of power to get what they want and have no qualms in doing that. This exploration of the degradation of today’s youth was initially what I thought Spring Breakers was all about, until Korine’s strange and hyper driven narrative confused my ideals.
And that’s where the biggest polarizing affect comes in. Korine doesn’t believe in following a standard structure to tell a story, at least that was his ideology at the time he made Gummo. Spring Breakers happens in sequential order; A happens, then B, and the result is C. However, in between we get some numbers and weird character signs thrown into the equation. Sometimes we’ll see a scene happen, but not know if it’s in the present or future. Sometimes we are given no explanation at all for scenes. It makes the already convoluted story that much more confusing. The confusing narrative also makes it difficult to decipher if the film is supposed to be mostly serious or satirical.
Korine marches to the beat of his own drum, because of this audiences have to endure his obnoxious cinematic decisions. The use of occasional wooden, voice over narration by Faith and other characters is a despicably annoying one aspect of the film, but in the last half of Spring Breakers we are put through the hellish agony of having to listen to multiple takes of Franco, Hudgens and Benson say the same lines over and over again. Stuck in ongoing loop repetition, we also must sit through stock footage and unnecessary shots to pass time. I’m pretty sure these were Korine’s attempts to enrage whomever he could, but he probably just thought it was awesome filmmaking.
“Let’s do blow, kill a guy, call our parents and tell them we’re better people, then do it all again tomorrow!”
Spring Breakers isn’t a film for the masses. When the audience I saw it with weren’t laughing uncontrollably at Korine’s decisions and Franco’s hilariously idiosyncratic role, they were angry and frustrated. Multiple people walked out during the film and as the ending title card flashed on screen, a guy stood up and yelled, “well that was a waste of my time!” After ease dropping on a group during the post film bathroom break, I could tell people were pissed and that’s understandable. Spring Breakers is half comedy, half serious drama, possibly a satire, mostly an exploitation film, semi-art house and overall pretty ridiculous. Korine, however, doesn’t stay consistent enough for anyone to know for sure. However, if you know and appreciate Korine’s films or can tolerate a glossy hodgepodge of images featuring women brandishing guns and singing Britney Spears, then be prepared to see a cult classic in the making.
Every one turns out incredible performances including Gucci Mane in a dry, odd, and terribly acted performance as the film’s main antagonist. Spring Breakers is an experience in itself, you may love it or hate, but you won’t forget it and that’s what provocative films are all about, right?
Take a Drink: for every Britney Spears reference.
Take a Drink: every time you here Alien’s monologue “Spring break, spring break…. Spring break for ever.”
Take a Drink: every time a gun is licked, sucked, or otherwise treated like a penis.
Take a Drink: every time Gucci Mane makes you double over in laughter.
Do a Shot: if you notice the spring breaker with lopsided boobs.
The Croods are a prehistoric family of cavemen led by Grug (Nicholas Cage), the massive, strong leader of the pack. The Croods spend their days hunting for food, but at dusk or any sign of threat, Grug leads them back into their cave where they sometimes stay for days at a time. There they sleep and listen to Grug tell stories of why exploration and curiosity will lead to death, much to the dismay of his adventure seeking teenage daughter, Eep (Emma Stone). One night, Eep sneaks out the cave and meets a more advanced wanderer, Guy (Ryan Reynolds). Guy enlightens Eep with his ability to create and maintain fire. Guy also tells Eep that he has witnessed the beginning of the end of the world and is on the way to the top of a mountain to reach high ground and escape through the sun. Soon after, platonic shifting that results in the continent breaking apart leads Eep and the Croods on the same path as Guy despite Grug’s reluctance to lose power over his family.
The Croods is beautifully imaginative in its direction, which creates an all encompassing world of breathtaking depth. The colors of the plant life and animals are vibrantly eye popping, even without seeing it in 3D. The breadth of The Croods world comes to life in staggering detail based solely on the film’s movement and color; such as when dust from rocks swirl toward and away from the viewer, instead of simply falling down in a typical two dimensional practice. The realism in the hair of characters and the billowing clouds of smoke from explosions is stunning. The world that the family explores is so lustrous that at times you don’t mind the mediocrity of what’s happening to them or just what little sense the story actually makes.
Wait, so you’re cavenmen but you have never seen the stars before? Now that’s just ignorant.
However, The Croods’ failure to make sense with it’s overall paper thin screenplay becomes too much to ignore. Most of the film is a disappointment due to the lack of explanation given to make viewers understand this prehistoric world. For instance, a break in the fault line causes a mountain of rocks a few miles up from the Croods’ cave to crumble. We are shown that just over that mountain is a land of lush, green forests complete with an array of plant life and strange beings that live within it. This beautiful world could make sense if it weren’t just a few miles away from the Croods’ barren dry, deserted, rocky area. Furthermore, when rain comes later in the film Grug is threatened and attempts to fight it, an indication that he’s never experienced rain before. So, how is this valley of lush vegetation exist in such abundance if no rain has come in the area? Does it just rain at night when the Croods are in their cave? And if they fear rain, how are they so accustomed to and unafraid of water when they reach it? How are they all just able to swim freely if they’ve been constricted to this barren terrain of rocks and dust?
There are also too many conveniences within the story to buy than The Croods’ world can sustain without an author’s obvious intervention. They are always able to outrun earthquakes and breaks in fault line. In fact, natural occurrences don’t happen spontaneously, instead they are perfectly timed, giving everyone just enough leeway to make it to higher ground before the last rock falls away. Also, I was extremely confused by the nonsensical animals that surround the family as their evolutionary point is never explored. There are whales living on land, half-elephant half-fish beings, tigers that want companionship with their prey… what!?
The inspiration for the animals featured in The Croods was Napoleon Dynamite’s Liger.
You know how The Flinstone’s was cool because their dishwashers were dinosaurs and their cars ran on momentum so their feet could rest and lamp shades were made of animal skins? The Croods isn’t on that level; it’s imaginative, but it lacks ingenuity. Guy wears pants and boot-like shoes made of a half dinosaur-half mammoth, how he cut it to make that work is beyond me. Eve’s tiger stripped outfit is impractical, barely secure and exposes every curve of her body– which in itself is questionable in a film rated G. Plus the Croods only hunt for non-threatening things like eggs, so when would a tiger come into the picture? Especially since the film establishes that tigers are green and purple with long haired fur.
I’m ready for my close-up, prehistoric Mr. Demille.
Furthermore, the humor of The Croods is weak. It relies heavily on slapstick and outdated motifs like the bait and switch of making puppets in a time of distraction. I laughed a few times, but overall much of the things meant to be funny just weren’t. The reoccurring joke of Grug’s desire for his mother-in-law to die was one the film’s handful of jokes that got big laughs in a theater filled with kids and their parents. Creepy but true.
The Croods had the potential to be a unique comedic romp that teaches children about prehistoric life and the history of the formation of the continents. Instead, it shies away from that responsibility, succeeding at being nothing more than a mediocre film featuring cavemen. Had it been in better hands, like Pixar, I have no doubt if could have been a greater experience. However, considering there are just no films out for children right now, The Croods fills that void by at least being an aesthetically pleasing film that brings a few chuckles.
Take a Drink: for every ”Dun dun duuuun”
Take a Drink: every time Grug goes into a jealous rage over Guy’s attention.
Take a Drink: every time Grug tells a story when someone dies
Take a Drink: every time Grug is disappointed that Gran is still alive.
For most of my life I’ve abhorred football. I’ve considered it a boring sport played by neanderthals that pushed the male stereotype of brawn over brains. I was that rebel in high school that never went to a football game because organized sports were fascist. That is until my senior year when I was finally convinced to go to our last homecoming game. Shockingly, it wasn’t painful torture as I had expected, but instead a social interaction that was, dare I say, fun.
However, that still didn’t cement my interest in the game. It took my recent significant other and his family’s deep abiding love for the game to actually allow me to see football as a game of agility, strength, and strategic intelligence. I learned the basic rules and found rooting for a team exhilarating. Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday takes the game of football and openly dissects every aspect of it, making for an engrossing, high-octane story that reflects why millions passionately love the game.
On any given Sunday, anything can happen, win or lose; this is the motto frequently repeated throughout the film. Any Given Sunday is the story of the slow but steady rise of a failing football team, The Miami Sharks. Lead by head coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pachino), the film begins with The Sharks in the middle of a losing streak. During the 2nd quarter, their quarterback, Jack Rooney (Dennis Quaid), endures a crippling injury, and shortly after, so does their second string quarterback. The team find themselves at the mercy of 3rd string quarterback Willie Beamer (Jaime Foxx), a young, inexperienced player.
Although the team loses, Willie builds his confidence and leads the team to a comeback in later games; however, he does so by changing the plays while on the field. As he rises in fame, so does his arrogance. A clash of egos takes place between Willie and his teammates as well as between Willie and Tony. The pressure to win and stay relevant begins to take its toll on the team, and on Tony, who finds himself at odds with the team’s new owner Christine Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) and his own confidence.
“OK kid, take that ball, run down that court, and kick it in the goal. You got it?”
A gritty, fast-paced spectacle, Any Given Sunday is a mesmerizing stylized account of every aspect of football. Stone treads into the waters of each level of football, showing insight into the game with meticulous detail. Stone’s auteuristic direction utilizes a smorgasbord of camera positions and edits to put viewers directly in the middle of the action. The first chunk of the film is a seeing eye into the last few quarters of a Shark’s game through every lens possible. We whip along the field with players, witness the rush and impact of contact, and we see the mass body of the crowd as well as the individual reactions on the faces of the fans. We sit in the box of Offensive Coordinator, Nick Crozier (Aaron Eckhart), as he communicates down to Tony on the field, and we hear the heartfelt speeches delivered to the team at half-time. Later in the film we even hang out with the guys in their locker room as they shower and joke around in complete uncut nudity.
Stone’s all inclusive attention to detail of the multifaceted levels of football makes the sport more than a game. It allows viewers to see the hard work that goes into it as well as the dangers each player faces when he’s out on the field. We are exposed to the business side of the profession with Stone giving viewers insight into the politics and pressure involved in making that business run well. Diaz’s tough as nails, money hungry Christina becomes the keystone of how that very business can destroy an individual’s grasp of humanity, just as Willie’s arrogance does the same on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Now sure, Any Given Sunday is a gripping story told through an array of cinematic techniques, but there’s a fine line between stylizing and over-stimulating viewers through a barrage of images. Stone barely walks that line well enough to pass a sobriety test. The biggest problem of Any Given Sunday ends up being Stone’s coked out brain regurgitating too many images on screen at once. Any Given Sunday is a two and a half hour movie that visits a little over four weeks with the Sharks, and although it tells a coherent story in great depth, it moves at the speed of a cheetah on a treadmill.
“The drug war!? You mean the one I battle every year?”
Because of this, at times the tricks and techniques used throughout are annoyingly distracting from what is going on within the film. Not only do you have to keep up with football jargon, discussions of football economics, and getting to know the personal relationships of each person, but you also are subjected to acid-like flashbacks that seem like the product of an ADD mind. Stock footage of lightning flashes are randomly intercut into scenes of dialogue, ghost like images of crowds appear, then fade away during games, unrelated and sometimes semi-related scenes appear for a second or two while another scene is going on, there are picture into picture shots, shots that randomly turn into surveillance footage or products of solarization, and a slew of other shots that happen because you know, why not? There’s so much going on so fast that I felt like I needed a downer to make it all make sense.
Any Given Sunday is pretty dated with its neon bright-colored clothing, age-y aesthetics, and blaring, eclectic soundtrack. Most of the film fills like an ex-football player’s post traumatic stress flashbacks, but despite it all Any Given Sunday is an engaging story that makes you view football on a deeper level. It takes the sport and exposes all the cogs in the wheel that makes it work, from the business ethics on the high end to the lower end’s personal conflicts that emerge from playing the game. It even dabbles in the inequality of financial distribution for players in the AFFA, as well as how a player’s race effects his standing and how egos can destroy team morale and the ethics of the game.
Any Given Sunday is no Remember the Titans. It doesn’t make you feel warm and tingly inside by the end. There’s a lot more going on beneath the surface and like it or not, Stone’s spastic way of telling the story keeps you glued. For all that it does, it’s shockingly coherent and impressive, making it one of the better sports dramas in existence.
Take a Drink: every time you hear the phrase “any given Sunday.”
Take a Drink: every time a cut to a lightening strike happens.
Take a Drink: every time Oliver Stone appears onscreen.
Take a Drink: every time The Sharks lose.
Do a Shot: for every penis you see.
Film’s starring black women in lead roles seem like a rare commodity. When compared to the numerous films that tell the story of a white female’s experiences, there are few films that revolve around black women and fewer of those display impressive artistic expression. Since the dawn of cinema black women have been grossly underrepresented, leaving many black actresses to play second fiddle to their white counterpart or only getting to star in films that are of historical significance or biographies. It’s baffling that such a rarity is the norm within cinema when the French film Black Girl shines light to this very problem and has been in existence for over forty years.
Black Girl is an experimentally styled narrative that is told through flashbacks intertwined with current action, all narrated by the lead character Diouana. A native of Darkar, Senegal, Diouana once had dreams of making money through an honest job. She joins the local clan of women who sit outside on street curbs everyday desperate for work until a white French woman hires her as a nanny. The family soon move Diouana to France as a live-in nanny and with stars in her eyes Diouana goes ahead, leaving behind her family and a loved one. But while in France, Diouana begins to question why her role in the house is changing; her employees are now barking orders at her and her race frequently becomes a topic for her employer and their friends to generalize and critique. She soon realizes her only view of France is from the window.
Black Girl plays out like a French New Wave film. Time and space are explored through fluid camera movements that move with intention and purpose. Yet there are stationary patient moments that take place, giving you the feeling of being a fly on the wall. As a result of being shot with a handheld camera, framing is tight and personal. Often times the editing allows a person’s eye line to match another’s, placing us directly in the middle of a moment or feeling.
You ever hear that joke that Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless is the forerunner of French New Wave Cinema due to its innovative direction, storytelling methods, and its use of jump cuts? What a great joke. I would argue that Black Girl is the forerunner of the French New Wave as a year before the genre caught wind, it had already used all the creative filming techniques including jump cuts, all done and used in identical fashion to the famous scene in Breathless.
“Patricia, I think we’ve been prematurely overexposed in intro film classes… can I sleep with you now?
Being a low budget film, Black Girl suffers from some stiff wooden acting and sound problems. The film is virtually silent with its sound mostly deriving from voice over narration and line dubbing, it’s also scored with tribal and instrumental music to make up for moments of non-existent atmospheric diegetic sound. Yet, its weaknesses don’t sway the film’s overall impressiveness and strength. Although its only 55 minutes long and speeds through Diouana’s life over a span of months, Black Girl occasionally feels slow as molasses due to scenes of patient waiting and sitting with characters; however, every frame is pivotal in developing Diouana, whether it be watching her prepare herself for a day of cleaning or slowly walking out of a room to cry in solitude.
Black Girl is a woman’s existential crisis in a time of colonialism and racial oppression. It’s thought provoking and enlightening, which is why I’m shocked it’s a film that I’ve never heard discussed. It’s representation at its purest form and everything about lead actress Mbissine Thérèse Diop is beautiful to watch, from her mannerisms and girlish charm to the way her skin appears in black and white. It’s a film that I wished I watched growing up and that more films like it existed. It would have made those awkward teenage years of trying to find my voice a lot easier.
Take a Drink: every time Diouana contemplates her current situation or asks a “why” question
Take a Drink: every time Dioana gets yelled at by the Madame
Take a Drink: when you see jump cuts
Take a Drink: every time ”the children” are mentioned