Project 101

Dan attempts to watch 101 movies in 12 months

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#30 – The Watchmen

Posted by Dan on July 26, 2009

watchmen-final-posterOkay, now let me first of all say that I have not read the comic of this (please stop calling them “graphic novels”. People who call them that are just too embrrassed to admit that they’re a grown adult who reads comic books. Let your freak flag fly, people!), and I had very little knowledge going in. And nearly 3 hours later, I kinda wished I had gone in a little more prepared.

So for those that haven’t seen it either, we’re in 1985, Richard Nixon is still President of the USA, and the world’s apparently on the brink of nuclear war. There’s also a bunch of superheroes around and everyone knows about them, but thanks to some government crack-down, they’ve all gone into hiding and live like regular people. But then one day, one of them is brutally attacked and murdered in his own home. So then one by one, the rest of the superheroes then rally together to work out what the fuck is going on, and they uncover some gritty plot bigger than they expected. Oh, and there’s a big blue guy who likes to strut around naked, showing his wang to the world.

What some of their powers are sometimes isn’t always explained, which is a surprise because the movie goes for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Visually, the movie is wonderful to watch, it really is quite stunning. A lot of the plot are very film noir in it’s feel, and the character archetypes reflect this wonderfully – the character of Rorschach is one of the best character performances you’ll see all year. But, given the amazing source material, it was always going to be hard to make a bad Watchmen movie. From the opening sequence, you’re transfixed into this amazing world that will have comic nerds and crime-novel geeks wetting their pants.

However at the end of the day, I just found the movie so incredibly boring. A lot of the dialogue scenes go on for way too long, and everything it stretched out far too long, except the ending, which appears quite rushed and over very suddenly. While a lot of the characters were portrayed very well, there’s still a few roles that were pretty much phoned in the day before. It’s kind of weird, because I really don’t know what I think of this movie. For everything I didn’t like about it, there was also something I did like about it. I think it’s definitely a flick that’s going to need a few Watchings (hahaha, see what I did there?) to really understand what the fuck is going on. Make sure you’re settled though, because it’s a movie that needs demands all of your attention.

So, this review (of sorts) isn’t really going to pass judgement. Go and see it for yourself and make up your own mind. If you can, because I know I haven’t yet.

I give ‘The Watchmen’ 2 and a half glowing blue wangs out of 5.

Rorschach’s Journal. October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper “no.”

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#29 Taken

Posted by Dan on July 4, 2009

TakenOkay, okay, so it’s taken me a while to post again. I’ve been on holidays since the start of June, and I only just got back from Scotland after spending time visiting my beautiful and amazing girlfriend (she’s spending 6 months over there and I went to visit at the half-way mark of her trip – don’t worry, this is not some crazy internet-dating thing where I fly around the world for a woman I’ve never met. I’ve totally met this woman before. I’ve even see her naked! SCORE!) But anyway, even on the plane I managed to catch a few movies. One or two of them I’m not really proud of, but hey, sometimes you gotta play the cards you’re dealt, right? Right!

So, let’s at least start off with a good flick, shall we? Taken is, in a nutshell, a story about a retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, played by Liam Neeson, who’s daughter is travelling overseas with a friend, until they get kidnapped by the Albanian mob. It’s nothing personal, his daughter just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. See, the Albanian’s kidnap young girls, then turn them into heroin addicts and make them do prostitution. This is something that obviously doesn’t sit well with Bryan (go figure). He then decides to go and get her himself, because he’s some amazingly terrific CIA agent will loads of skills. But not like in that lame Napoleon Dynamite kinda way, but more in a “I know 4 places on your body that I can kill you with one strike of my fist” kinda way.

Now, I’d say that the majority of people would probably know Liam Neeson for being a loveable kind of guy. I asked a few female friends recently, while talking about this movie, what the last movie was that they saw him in, and every single one of them said ‘Love, Actually‘. But for those of you that have seen Batman Begins, you’ll be well aware that Liam Neeson is one bad-ass motherfucker and Taken is just another example of this. Forget about The Wu-Tang Clan, Liam Neeson aint nothin’ to fuck with.

This is pretty much a solo effort by Liam. There’s a nice little ensemble cast, but they’re easily forgettable when in contrast to Neeson. The action is swift and efficient, and for a retired agent, Neeson is certainly in good shape. There’s a few fairly unconvincing moments, as well as a fair bit of “assumed prior-knowledge” with the movie, which sometimes makes it harder to judge who’s a good guy, who’s a bad guy, and what does one consider good or bad to be? Sometimes this can be negative (like the dinner scene at Jean-Claude’s house), but for the majority, it’s just a good little pop-corn flick that I’ll let things like that slide in favour of it’s great fight scenes.

When I watched this, it was a few days before my girlfriend and another female friend of hers take off to Brussels for about a week, so I must say that I’m feeling slightly nervous at this stage after watching that movie. But on the upside, if those two do get captured, I know immediately who I’m gonna call.

Taken is a thoroughly enjoying action flick with enough suspension and action to satisfy just about everyone. It’s all-over a fairly well balanced film with a fast yet stable pace. Highly recommended.

I given Taken 3 and a half unconvincing French accents out of 5

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money… but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it – I will not look for you, I will not pursue you… but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
-Bryan, talking to some Albanian mobster on the phone

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#28 Wall-E

Posted by Dan on May 21, 2009

WALL-EposterI don’t know why it’s taken me so long to see Wall-E. I’m a massive fan of the Pixar movies. I own all of them on DVD (2-disc special editions, no less!), and they’re all regularly in the dvd player at home, yet it’s only since the other day that I bothered to watch Wall-E. I think it’s probably because part of me knew that I’d love it, so there was really no rush to see it. Loving this movie was a sure-fire bet. But I tell you what, it was touch and go for a while…

Wall-E is a movie set in the future, sometime after 2010. Wall-E is a robot (WALL-E stands for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter – EarthClass”) who’s seemingly sole purpose is the compact the world’s garbage into small cubes. The world has been long since evacuated, deemed too toxic to sustain human life, and now the world’s population travels around in space in a giant spacecraft (but we’ll get to that later). Wall-E does have a significant amount of AI, and leads a fairly humanised life. He does his work, and he goes back to his home at the end of each day. He’s clearly lonely, having just a single cockroach to keep him company. That is, until Eve shows up.

Eve is sent from an unmanned ship down to earth with the sole purpose of looking for signs of organic life on earth. Because EVE stands for “Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator”. Eve also has her own personality, which seems to be first first, ask questions later, which works perfectly with Wall-E’s almost co-dependent need for attention and affection. Eve becomes curious with Wall-E, but just as a friendship starts to form, Eve finds what she’s looking for on Earth, and automatically shuts down, becoming nothing more than a homing beacon, awaiting pick-up.

Look, I won’t give too much more away of the movie. I don’t want this to be some Wikipedia page on the film – and oh boy, now THERE is a mistake. If you’re ever thinking “hmmm … here’s a movie I like the sound of, but I know nothing about it – I’ll see what it has on Wiki”, then DON’T. Most of the movie pages breaks down the exact plot of the film, thus negating any reason you may have to watch it, because it’s all been explained in painstaking detail. But I digress…

Wall-E is slow to begin with, but as the movie progresses, you realise that the intro is a necessary set-up to a fantastic punch-line. The movie succeeds in two main ways. Firstly, Pixar has once again managed to make a multi-layered movie aimed for both adults and children. It’s a largely enjoyable movie for children, with all the flashing bright colours and adorable characters – for adults, there is still that, but there’s some grim views of the future and actually raises quite a number of conversation topics. More importantly, it succeeds. as all Pixar movies do, because of it’s sheer simplicity. It’s a movie that’s so accessible for everyone, that I could easily show this movie to my toughest of mates and my nan all in the same room, and I guarantee you everyone would get something out of it. I also love that there’s very little dialogue in the movie. Both Wall-E and Eve can barely utter more than a handful of words, but to hear the emotion in their voice by simply saying the other’s name, would melt the soul of even the most hardened cynic.

The movie is fairly slow-moving at parts, and I can see that there are some moments that are purely there for the sake of the kids, but that’s counter-balanced nicely with the adult-aimed themes and culture references. Wall-E, while not being my favourite of the Pixar movies, definitely rates very high. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t enjoy this movie.

I give Wall-E 4  out of 5 Pizza Planets

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#27 Role Models

Posted by Dan on April 19, 2009

role-models-movie-posterI went and saw this with my girlfriend at the movies a few months ago, and to be honest, I was only half into it. I love Paul Rudd, and the previews were hilarious, but I kinda thought that it’d be the typical jock movie with all the funniest bits in the preview. But I tell you what, I got more than I bargained for.

Sean William Scott and Paul Rudd play Wheeler and Danny, two guys who work for an energy drink, going around from school to school pimping out their product. Danny, who hates his job, suddenly snaps one day after finding their truck about to be towed, and runs up a long list of fines and convictions. So instead of going to jail, the court instructs them to do 150 hours of community service, so they find themselves at Sturdy Wings, a ‘bigger brother’ type program for boys.

Now, what surprised me most about this movie, was that in the first 15 minutes, it seemed like another American Pie style comedy filled with nothing but dick and fart jokes. But, while it is partly that, it’s all a really tender coming-of-age type movie. Wheeler needs to learn to grow up and start accepting responsibility. Danny is in a rut with his life and due to his recent dumping by his girlfriend, hates the world and everything around him. There’s quite a few tender moments that I think will be very relatable.

This movie is definitely one of the most underrated movies this year, and its definitely a lot funnier and more sincere than I really thought it would be. And better yet, it’s bloody funny.

Oh, and before I forget, if you’re a KISS fan, then this is definitely one for you too. I do love me some KISS, and so when  was surprised to see so much KISS-humour, I was totally sold.

I give Role Models 3 and a half out of 5 copies of Phantoms on HDDVD.

Danny: Can I get a large black coffee?
Barista: A what?
Danny: Large black coffee.
Barista: Do you mean a venti?
Danny: No, I mean a large.
Barista: Venti is large.
Danny: No, venti is twenty. Large is large. In fact, tall is large and grande is Spanish for large. Venti is the only one that doesn’t mean large. It’s also the only one that’s Italian. Congratulations, you’re stupid in three languages.
Barista: Listen, dick, a venti is a large coffee.
Danny: Really? Says who? Fellini? Do you accept lira or is it all euros now?

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#26 Choke

Posted by Dan on April 18, 2009

chokeOkay, so according to Wikipedia, Choke  “is based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. It tells the story of a man who works in a colonial theme park, attends sexual addiction recovery workshops, and at nights pretends to choke on food in upscale restaurants so his ‘rescuers’ would pay him out of sympathy and thus cover his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease hospital bills.”

So, I’m hooked already and I’m pretty damn keen to watch it. So let’s go through a list of things about this moving that have me excited about watching it:

the main character is played by Sam Rockwell,
it also has Angelica Houston, who’s an amazing actress,
it has Kelly MacDonald, who I have a huge crush on,
and it’s written by Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the book based on my favourite movie of all time, Fight Club.

Yet, despite all this… My god does this movie suck. I really wanted to like this, but the movie went absolutely nowhere for nearly 70 minutes, then in the last 20 minutes it totally falls apart and it feels like all these ends that were about to be tied up now frayed more than ever. There are almost far too many holes to make this even a mildly enjoyable film.

I can’t go on, I’m only going to trash it more and more. This is one of the most disappointing movies on my list so far.

I give Choke 1 out of 5 anal beads.

A long time ago in ancient Greece,there was a young girl who fell in love with a young boy from another country.One day word came that the young boy would have to go home.So on their last night together she traced the outline of her lovers shadow,so that she could always remember how he looked on the very last moments they were ever to be together.

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#25 Sixteen Candles

Posted by Dan on April 15, 2009

sixteencandlesHoly crap, it’s been such a long time since I’ve updated this thing – I should get my arse into gear! It’s not like I haven’t been watching new movies, because I have. I’ve watched a few since my last entry, so I’m definitely keeping up the pace. The problem is now remembering all those movies enough to write them down!

I guess my real life has been getting in way of this blog. Quite a few things have changed though. My relationship with my fiance broke down and like a phoenix from the flames, I’m in love with someone new, who just may happen to be the woman of my dreams. I’ve got a new flatmate, I’m getting ready for overseas travel, I’ve been busy with my podcast (you can listen to me at http://www.favouritefive.com or just look for it on iTunes), and generally just, well, being me.

But, I can tell what you’re thinking. You’re sitting there thinking to yourself “I don’t give a fuck about you, I just wanna read about the movies you’ve been watching! What’s the matter with you, son?” Firstly, thanks for not calling them “reviews”, for this is clearly not a title I’m worth of. Secondly, don’t call me “son”, that’s so patronising. Thirdly, I’m doing what’s called “padding”. See the movie I just watched? Sixteen fucking Candles. I’m fairly sure that I’m the only person on this planet who has not seen this movie.

I don’t really know what to say – there’s no point telling you about the movie because you’ve already seen it. If you haven’t, well you’re worse than me. There’s something about the 80s, but every second movie that came out was a “coming of age” type movie. They don’t have them anymore?

Either way, Molly Ringwald is kinda cute in this movie. Plus it kinda looks like they were trying to tape down her boobs or something. She looks like she’s about 25 years old in this movie, but playing a 16 year old girl. It’s weird. She’s kinda hot though in this movie … you know, for a ranga.

There was one really big surprise about this movie that I didn’t see coming: I actually enjoyed it. I mean, I LIKED this movie, I’m not sure it gets more fucked up than that. I’m starting to blow this whole ‘tough guy’ image I’m trying so desperately to maintain.

But seriously, the movie seems to be a little too quick in trying to be over. There’s almost a little too much assumed information.  There’s no real reason to explain why people are the way they are. So many unanswered questions!

Why is Samantha seemingly so unpopular?
How come Samantha didn’t mention anything in the days leading up to her birthday to her family?
Why would your only sister schedule her wedding on your birthday?
For such loving parents, how can they let their daughter marry a guy she’s only been with for 6 months?
Is the only reason why Joan Cusack gets gigs is because John insists on having his sister?
Why is Jake Ryan going after a ranga?
And how come Jake’s girlfriend is so comfortable with the knowledge that she’s just been drugged and fucked by the school geek? IT’S CALLED DATE RAPE, PEOPLE! YET SOMEHOW THIS IS ACCEPTABLE?
And let’s not forget about the good ol’ fashioned racism shown when they introduce an Asian guy. Long Duck Dong? Jesus H. Macy, I was expecting one of the other characters to exclaim “ME NO RIKEY!”

Anyway, despite all this, I give this movie 13 out of 16 candles.

“I really love Rudy. He is totally enamored of me. I mean, I’ve had other men love me before, but not for six months in a row. “

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#24 Burn After Reading

Posted by Dan on February 12, 2009

burn_after_readingYou can usually pick a Coen brothers movie from a mile away, and this one is no different. In fact, you could probably pick this from 5 miles away. Mind you though, I’m still undecided on whether or not this is a good thing. When you’re a filmmaker, you can either keep making the same type of movie again and again and get accused of just churning out the same photocopy on film again and again, or you can finally do something different, and get accused of selling out – I mean, shit, just ask Kevin Smith. I guess the secret is finding something to churn out time and time again that’s actually good. And as much as I’d hate to admit it, the Coens have probably found it. But, this isn’t an essay on the Coen brothers (although I would love to write one).

One of the things I love about a movie by the Coens’ is that they almost have a celebration of the ordinary. There’s usually themes of average people, even losers, who manage to think that they’ve made it big, that they’ve hit some deep hardcore problems. It was evident in one of my favourite movies ever, The Big Lebowski, and it reeks here.

Burn After Reading has an amazing cast – Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, as well as some cult favourites like the always-amazing JK  Simmons. It’s kind of hard to go into the a simply synopsis of the movie without writing for pages and pages, but needless to say, if you’ve liked previous Coen movies, you’ll like this one too. There’s some kind of sick fascination that I have with watching idiots get in over their head, and just witnessing the painful scenes that play out – kind of like in the original version of The Office. I can only watch a couple of these shows in a row because it’s so awkward. This is similar – it’s so hilarious, yet oh so painful to see these idiots (well, mainly Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand’s characters) who think that they’ve stumbled on some high-class military FBI secrets. But really, it’s just a book that Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) has written about his life working in the FBI, which is nowhere near as insightful as it could be.

It’s one of those great movies that has lots of characters with seperate storylines that always seem to end up being the same storyline with the same characters. The plot twists are ridiculous to the point of hilarity, and at times you just have to accept that what you’re watching really is happening. It’s only during the last few minutes watching JK Simmons sum up what you’ve ultimately just watched, that makes you realise how stupid the events that have just unfolded have been – but it’s an amazing ride that’s definitely worth a second visit.

I give Burn After Reading 4 out of 5 hard-bodies.

Rather than give the usual quotes from the movie, I’ll give you an excert from a great article I read about the movie:

Pitt, who plays a particularly unintelligent character in Burn After Reading, said of his role, “After reading the part, which they said was hand-written for myself, I was not sure if I should be flattered or insulted.” Pitt also said when he was shown the script, he told the Coens he did not know how to play the part because the character was such an idiot: “There was a pause and then Joel goes…’You’ll be fine.'”

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#23 Seven Pounds

Posted by Dan on February 8, 2009

sevenpoundsOne of my favourite shows on TV at the moment is House. It’s a quality show and everything about it I love. I find it fairly hard to fault anything about that show. However, the one annoying thing is that I can never remember when it’s on tv, so I end up usually missing the first 10 minutes, which means that I end up spending the majority of the episode trying to work out what happened, and it kinda ruins it for me. Seven Pounds is the movie equivalent of this.

Seven Pounds is the story of Ben Thomas, who works for the IRS, and uses his ability to garner people’s details to track them down and help their lives in some way. Ben has an obsession with improving the lives of these 7 people that he tracks down, and it’s only as the movie progresses that it comes out why he’s helping them, and how exactly he’s helping them. I don’t really want to give away too much of the movie, because part of the joy of the movie is just the way it gives away a little bit more about the movie. The start of the movie makes no apologies for the way it just jumps right into the movie, and it doesn’t dumb things down at all. It’s a confusing way to start things, but after a while, it does start to work.

The best way to watch this movie is to simply just let it happen. Don’t try and be one of those people that tries to work out how the movie is going to end. I hate those people. Especially in this movie – just let it happen, allow yourself to become slightly confused at some parts, and by the last 30 minutes or so, there’s that big “ooOOOOoooooh, NOW I get it” moment, and then everything starts to fall into place rather nicely.

Seven Pounds is a great movie, and I’d definitely recommend it. It does tend to try a little too much to be a bit of a tear-jerker at the end, which I don’t think quite pulls it off as much as it thinks it does. But then again, one of my friends that I saw it with started getting teary, so maybe I’m just a heartless bastard.

I give Seven Pounds, 4 pounds out of 7.

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#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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