Monday, April 19, 2010

Walt Throwing Pizza.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kick-Ass: Earning Its Name Through Humor, Vulgarity and Violence

     Upon first hearing of Kick-Ass (probably) 6 months ago, I wasn't that keen on the premise: a high school nerd decides that he wants to become a superhero and ends up Peter Parkering his way into super stardom with the help of some other on-the-outskirts-of-society wannabe losers. Then I watched the Red Band Trailer and read that the makers were going for a balls-to-the-walls "Hard R" with copious amounts of profanity-laced throat slitting and knives to the testicles. As one can imagine, the film instantly traversed above most of the junk that comes out in wide release nowadays to become one of my most anticipated in 2010. After leaving the opening night showing this past Friday, I was not disappointed.
    Since the best parts of the film come from an 11 year-old's mouth and actions (already a statement that sounds scarily close to pedophilia), I'll refrain from using my typical orgasmic language as not to have my I.P Address flagged by Chris Hanson's crack team of investigators. Let's just say this: Hit-Girl's a girl spawned from the womb of Ellen Ripley's uterus, fertilized by a generous squirt of Tarantino's semen. I guess when your (in the fictionalized movie world of Kick-Ass) dad is a reinvigorated Nic Cage, it's easy to be cool and crazy with a ca-ca mouth.


     Speaking of Nicolas Cage, his character Big Daddy (not of Bioshock fame) is another good aspect of the film. From the moment we first see him shooting his bulletproof vest-wearing daughter in the chest to teach her what it feels like to get shot at point blank range, the audience realizes what a caring, loving father he is. Here's the deal with Big Daddy: he's out to get the major crime boss villain in the film, D'Amico. Why, you may ask? Well, Big Daddy was once a cop and D'Amico framed him and sent him to prison; while in prison, Daddy's wife died giving birth to their daughter, Mindy (eventually becoming the aforementioned Hit-Girl). When the Big D was released from jail, he taught his daughter how to kill the bad guys, presenting her with birthday gifts of butterfly knives instead of dolls or Miley Cyrus DVDs. Cage has rejuvenated his career as of late: between the 30 second scene of him slashing and dashing his way around the room murdering people in Kick-Ass to his bursts of uncontrollable hysterical laughter in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, he's stealing scenes in every film he touches.
     Which brings us to one of the few small problems that Kick-Ass has: The side characters are more entertaining than the film's main star, Kick-Ass himself. If you were to shave off fifteen minutes of the film's runtime involving Kick-Ass doing tired and cliche acts (I'm talking to you, talk in mirror Taxi Driver style scene...), the film could reach an even higher level of greatness. Not that everything Kick-Ass does is stupid and boring; on the contrary, he does spank his meat to his English teacher's breasts and pretends he's gay to get close enough to a girl to rub lotion on her naked body. Everything's not lost, as Chris Martin would say.
     A significant portion of viewers and critics are trashing the film due to its graphic depiction of child violence in a Columbine Age. Clearly that's stupid, just like the parallel argument that video game violence causes children to act out in violent ways. It's a film based on a Comic Book. It's not real life, although most fanboys probably wish it was. Just buy a ticket, sit down and take the film for what it is: an entertaining story that breaks the mold and kicks the ass of almost all the comic book films before it, all while maintaining a carefree and risky nature that most filmmakers wouldn't dare try in an age where Tea Baggers roam the streets like brainless zombies and Sarah Palin gets a show on the Discovery Channel.     (A-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Netflix Stream This, Bitch!

     Before Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, before Memento and Insomnia,  Brit Christopher Nolan directed this small little film about stalking and voyeurism on the streets of London. The film can be seen as a good precursor to Memento in the sense that it follows a non-linear story structure and has abnormal characters with interesting motivations. 
     To presumably find inspiration for a new novel, a young man begins following and studying certain people throughout the main roads and back allies of a dreary and dank London environment. At first, the man has a certain set of rules that he follows when following strangers to not get too obsessed or sucked into something dangerous. He immediately finds an interesting man in a suit and begins following him. However, things are not what they seem: the man in the suit confronts and introduces himself to the young man, letting the young man know that he is a serial burglar; he also wants to know if the young man wants to take the following a step further into people's homes and apartments. What "follows" is a story with a wonderful existentialist look at what the things people own really mean, along with blackmail, betrayal and murder. 
     Like all of Christopher Nolan's films, there is a never a dull moment. Everyone should see the early work of one of today's most talented and entertaining directors. It was written, directed, filmed and co-produced by him. One would think that a low budget black and white film shot on a 16mm camera on the streets of London with a minimal cast would be an easy job; however, that wasn't the case. Nolan referred to the shoot as "extreme" and it took nearly a year to finish...long for any movie. Part of why this is true deals with the complicated nature of the film. The scenes fit together like a tangled web of peeping tom visions and various back stabbing. Although it doesn't reach the brilliant greatness of Memento, the movie, like an entertaining jigsaw puzzle, is a great way to spend 70 minutes.

80% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Netflix Stream This, Bitch!

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

     I'm a sucker for documentaries like this. The King of Kong is a 2007 film (in the same niche as Spellbound and Word Wars) that follows one man, Steve Wiebe, as he tries to become the all time high scorer in the history of the arcade game Donkey Kong. Steve Wiebe's arch nemesis, Billy Mitchell, is still world-renowned in the year of the film for having the all time high score in both Donkey Kong and Centepede. The story is about their clash at the top of the Donkey Kong world rankings. 
     You couldn't think of a better, more dramatic story than this: In Iowa, a man named Walter Day founds an unheard of organization named Twin Galaxies, a group that keeps track of high scores of most United States-based arcade games. Billy Mitchell is like the Jesus of video games, with long dark hair and an attitude than can only be described as douchebaggery. He says in the film that his videogame accomplishments are his greatest in life (other than his family), and he is the founder of some local, successful homemade hot sauces (I couldn't make this shit up). Hundreds and hundred and hundreds of miles away in Washington State lives our underdog, the fore-mentioned Steve Wiebe. Recently laid off as a Boeing engineer, he spends all of his free time on a Donkey Kong machine that he bought for his garage, neglecting his other interests in life including his love of sports, music, and family. 
     To give away more would rob the viewer of many hilarious and cringe-inducing pleasures involving tainted and tampered-with Donkey Kong machines, private investigators, and friendships and families strained to extremely high and sad levels. Even if you have never played a video game in your life, it doesn't matter: the story can be used as a metaphor for anyone's passion about a hobby that contains a competitive edge. The King of Kong is as watchable as Donkey Kong is frustrating. 

97% on Rotten Tomatoes, 83 out of 100 on Metacritic.