Project 101

Dan attempts to watch 101 movies in 12 months

Archive for January 4th, 2009

#22 Bad Santa

Posted by Dan on January 4, 2009

bad_santa_filmThere’s something to be said about expectations in movies, especially when it comes to Christmas movies. I usually avoid them like the plague, because they’re pretty much the same story archetype. It’s nice to see one that doesn’t quite fit it as much. Well, it still fits the mould, but rather than fitting it nicely, it’s squashed and jammed in, not being before doused in booze in the hope that making it wet makes it more malleable.

Bad Santa is the story of Willie, played by Billy-Bob Thorton, who’s an alcoholic and a criminal. His scam is working as a Santa at the local mall, and with the help of his friend Marcus (Tony Cox), who plays his elf side-kick, they sneak back in after hours and rob the place. Everything is fairly routine until Willie befriends a local kid and starts dating a local barmaid (Lauren Graham) who has a kinky fetish for having sex with ‘Santa’.

There’s also a number of great supporting actors, including both the late Bernie Mac and John Ritter. This is actually John Ritter’s final acting role. He died 2 months before the release of the movie, and as such, the movie has been dedicated to his memory. Seeing them both in a scene together seems a bit odd, but both of them are fucking hilarious. The funniest bit comes from Marcus’s dialogue though. Marcus is the voice of reason and makes sure that Willie stays on track and doesn’t drink himself into too much oblivion, but every now and then he needs to give him one of Marcus’s extra special pep talks.

Sometimes I get the feeling that Billy-Bob was just playing himself in most of this. Willie is just a terrible terrible person, and only just starts to become a regular human as the movie progresses until the end, when… well, you can just go and watch it.

This is worth a watch just to finally see a movie with Santa Claus in it that has Santa not being his usual jolly self. He’s a real sad, bitter bastard … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I give Bad Santa 4 out of five reindeers

Willie: You know, I think I’ve turned a corner.
Marcus: Yeah? You fucking petite chicks now?
Willie: No, I’m not talking about that. I beat the shit out of some kids today. But it was for a purpose. It made me feel good about myself. It was like I did something constructive with my life or something, I dunno, like I accomplished something.
Marcus: You need many years of therapy. Many, many fuckin’ years of therapy.

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#21 300

Posted by Dan on January 4, 2009

300posterboxI remember when I was a kid, watching movies like the Predator, Alien 3 and Terminator 2 and thinking “holy crap, the special effects in this movie are amazing, how are they going to out-do this?” and from there, movies like that were the pinnacle of realism. Then along came 300.

I was actually talking about this movie last night with a bunch of friends who had all seen the movie and interestingly enough, none of them really were able to give an answer on whether or not they liked it without some kind of justification at the end, it was all “I liked it, but…” or “I wasn’t really into it, although…” Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think in this case, it’s the perfect example.

If you like your big epic war movies that are full of espoinage, plot twists and factually correct in-depth politics, then dear reader, this movie is not for you.

If you like your big epic war movies that are full of violent battles, amazing special effects, cliché yet inspiring dialogue and beautifully choreographed sequences, then dear reader, this movie is made just for you.

… actually, let’s go for a third one …

If you like your porn movies with an all-male cast, then dear reader, this movie is made just for you.

One of the things that stood out, and I’ve checked with a few other people just in case I was projecting (that’s a whole other blog), but there’s quite a large amount of homo-eroticism in the movie. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t that phased by it, but there’s just something about a large group of incredibly fit men full of testosterone walking around the country-side in their underpants that seems slightly odd to me.

But, gay connotations aside, this is, for what it is, quite a great movie. I know a lot of people bitched about it because apparently it’s not historically correct. Honestly? That’s your biggest bug-bear with the movie? When you got the movie out, did you pick up the dvd from the ‘Documentary’ section? No, you didn’t, so shut up. Your point is no longer valid.

Enjoy it for what it is – it’s a visually beautiful movie with some amazing choreographed action sequences and some of the greatest and well used special effects that we have ever seen.

I can’t wait for The Watchmen.

I give this movie three and a half out of five kicks to the chest.

Stelios: It’s an honor to die at your side.
King Leonidas: It’s an honor to have lived at yours.

Not-Very-Interesting Fact:
There’s a small lane-way not far from my house called simply “SPARTA”. It’s not Sparta Lane, or Sparta Street, simply Sparta. Barely a weekend goes by without seeing someone take a photo of it. I might have to be one of those people. I’ll keep you posted … but I promise the photo won’t be of me in my underpants …

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#20 Dan In Real Life

Posted by Dan on January 4, 2009

dan_in_real_lifeWell, here we are, 1/5th of the way through the list! Thanks for sticking by (that is, if there are actually people reading this. If you’re reading this, you should comment! Don’t be afraid!). I think I might have to put the brakes on a little bit – I’ve gone through 20 movies and I’ve only been doing this for a month!

This is one of the movies that was on my own personal ‘must see’ list for quite a while, but not because I’m a Steve Carrell fan – I’m actually fairly impartial to him. I kinda got this feeling that he was becoming a bit typecast, and while some of the movies that he’s been in I’ve really enjoyed, I was kinda wondering when he was going to actually start acting.

Dan In Real Life is the story of Dan Burns, who writes an advice column for his local paper, and is a widower with 3 bratty daughters, as he takes them up to the grandparents house for their annual family holiday. His family is like any others – they seem nice and normal, but with Dan around, there’s always that thin layer on tension that you’re never quite sure when it’s going to break. Dan’s life isn’t really full of pleasure and his family begin to take pity on his subservient ways, especially romantically. His family is played by a fantastic ensemble cast, including Dianne Wiest as his mother, and John Mahony (the old guy from Frasier) as the father. There’s even a great job done by Dane Cook, who plays one of Dan’s brothers, Mitch, which I never saw coming!

One day, Dan makes a quick trip into town to get some supplies when he meets Marie, played by Juliette Binoche (who you might recognise from the Three Colours movie trilogy). Instantly the two hit it off, and what starts off as a quick 5 minute trip to the shops for Dan ends up a day-long impromptu ‘date’ and for once you see Dan come out of his shell and he finally looks happy. After Marie leaves to also head off to a family holiday, Dan practically floats back to the house only just maintaining to not burst out of his skin with joy. He tells the family about the girl and everyone’s esctatic for him. However while this is going on, Dan’s brother Mitch has been busy telling everyone about how nervous he is about bringing his new girlfriend to spend holidays with the family and how this girl could almost be “the one”. So when she shows up– that’s right, Mitch’s girlfriend is Marie.

It’s at this point that the movie can go either way – it can become an all-out slapstick humourous movie or can becoming incredibly saddening and depressing. Luckily, it seems to tread a thin line straight down the middle of both of these options, resulting in what is a thoroughly enjoyable movie. There are laughs there, but they’re not the usual set-em-up-and-knock-em-down jokes, and you find yourself either whincing or laughing because there is, at least for me, that sense of an air of familiarity, which is the movie’s, especially Steve Carell’s greatest asset. There’s a beautiful subtlety to every single piece of dialogue, and it’s reaction to those that hear it.

I really liked everything about this movie and is definitely one of those movies where the more you think back on it, the more you remember the bits about it that you liked. It’s a great story about love that never goes according to plan, with a great cast full of some amazing performances. It’s funny, sad and downright frustrating at all the appropriate moments and is definitely original enough to keep you wondering how the rest will pan out.

I give Dan In Real Life 4 out of 5 single parents.

“Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised”

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