Posted by: MrJoseph45 | April 22, 2011

On the Move!

I love this blog, I really do.

This blog has been the gateway for me meeting new people, finding out new and inspiring things, and my general brand of tomfoolery.  We’ve discussed movies, politics, sports, births, and deaths.  We’ve had multiple current events debates, up to and including the Health Care kerfuffle.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

So, it is with infinite sadness that I post the final blog entry at this version of the Journal of the Rambling Black Man.  Don’t fret, though; all is not lost!

Why you crying?  Stop crying!

I am hereby announcing my move to my new incarnation of the Journal of the Rambling Black Man.  You can find it at www.ramblingblackman.com – where else?

So, let’s not consider this goodbye; let’s consider this a new start.  Look towards www.ramblingblackman.com for the first post explaining more of why I moved.

See you there!

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Posted by: MrJoseph45 | April 11, 2011

Live Long and Transform

I was on the fence about trying to watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon without casting a critical eye like I did after watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. That is, until I read this:

Sentinel PrimeHere is some news that should make Transformers: Dark of the Moon live long and prosper in the hearts of sci-fi fans.

Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, has joined the film as the voice of Sentinel Prime, the predecessor of Optimus Prime whose wrecked body is seen in the teaser trailer, found crash-landed on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969. Later, after being brought to earth, he takes the disguise form of a fire engine in the movie’s massive, climactic battle through Chicago.

Apart from his obvious Star Trek cred, Nimoy also has a history with Hasbro’s shape-shifting alien robots: He was the voice of Galvatron in 1986′s The Transformers: The Movie.

Transformers filmmaker Michael Bay had toyed with the idea of inviting him to play a voice in the second movie, Revenge of the Fallen, but wasn’t sure he could pay the veteran actor enough. “I was too scared to ask him,” the director says. “Plus, he’s married to Susan Bay, who’s a cousin of mine. So I had to be careful. I’ve met him at family functions. But he told me, ‘I would be honored. I’m glad to be back!’”

Bay has been open about changing course with this third Transformers movie and making a stronger story than the critically pulverized last one. He says part of that is giving the metallic characters a bit more soul, even if they’re villains. “The robots have more character in this movie. Much more. You really understand their struggle, on both sides actually,” Bay says.

The 3-D Transformers: Dark of the Moon opens July 1.

Source

This is brilliant news…simply brilliant! I’m a Trekkie fan, so I always get a kick out of seeing Leonard Nimoy in any way I can. It’s also good to see Nimoy return to the franchise as he was the voice of Galvatron in The Transformers: The Movie. I’m really looking forward to seeing how he voices Sentinel Prime.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | April 2, 2011

Crack the Source

I had the (increasingly) rare free moment today, and I was able to spend it by doing what I do best, and that’s go to the movies.  Today’s movie selection is the action thriller Source Code.  The Summit Entertainment production stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright.  I had seen commercials and trailers for this movie for a while, and I was intrigued to see how it would all play out.  I like a good thriller as much as the next person, but the question was how would this work on screen.

The movie begins with Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) waking up on a train in the body of Chicago schoolteacher Sean Fentress.  Disoriented and confused, he finds himself sitting in front of a woman named Christina (Michelle Monaghan).  He hurriedly tries to make sense of what’s going on, but before he can start putting the pieces together, a bomb goes off and kills everyone on the train.  He awakes in a pod, where he is greeted by Air Force Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga).  She lets him know that he is inside something called the Source Code, and that he has eight minutes to find the bomb that killed everyone on the train.  Every failure brings him back to the pod with only a few moments to spare before returning back to the train.  He also finds out that the first bomb was a test run, and that there is another one geared up to destroy Chicago.  With constant urging from Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), he sets out on his mission, which ends up being a race against time.

My previous experience with Jake Gyllenhaal was with that disastrous Prince of Persia movie.  I didn’t know if I was ready to give him another shot so soon, but I decided to go for the ride.  Suffice it to say, this was the right decision.  Gyllenhaal has a great sense of humor in this movie, and he handles the action scenes well.  His actions as the reluctant hero are phenomenal, and his transition to being the hero everyone thinks he can be is virtually seamless.

Michelle Monaghan is charming in her role.  The last time I got a good look at her was with Mission: Impossible III, and she’s good at playing the virtual damsel in distress.  With the constant jumps that Stevens takes, it’s great to see Christina’s character evolve and come out through the various interactions with Stevens/Fenteress.

Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright play the overseer and the project director, respectively.  I lumped these two together because they have great chemistry onscreen.  Farmiga’s role as Captain Goodwin is firm, but caring, and she performs it well.  Wright’s role as Dr. Rutledge was more stern and effacing, with his only focus being on the mission itself, and not caring about what Stevens is actually going through.

The movie is directed by Duncan Jones, and he is able to strike the balance between action and humor effortlessly.  He is more recognized for directing the Sam Rockwell vehicle Moon, but he does a great job with the Ben Ripley script.  Chris Bacon does the score here, and it’s almost heroic in some scenes and subdued when it calls for it.  The main theme plays on Stevens’ heroism, and it’s something that carries throughout the film itself.

This movie felt very familiar to me, and it didn’t take long for me to figure out where the familiarity came from; in fact it came within the first ten minutes: Source Code reminds me of Quantum Leap, with Gyllenhaal playing the part of Sam Beckett and Farmiga doing a very good impression of Admiral Al Calavicci, so much so that Sam Beckett himself – Scott Bakula – has a bit part in the movie.  I really liked that show, and it helped to allow me to enjoy the movie that much more.  This is a taunt little thriller, and with a running time of about 93 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.  The movie creates its own universe, and it dares you to come along for the ride.  I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to give this movie four times More Epic than Love Jones.

After all, this is a definite case of the past affecting the future.

 

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | March 24, 2011

The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

192755_10150218287542977_822177976_9000568_5683164_oI have a confession to make.  I haven’t written anything about this because I haven’t had the words.  It’s kinda difficult to express feelings you haven’t felt before, and it’s even tougher to make those feelings make sense to your readers.  That being said, I think I’m gonna give it a shot and let you know what’s been going on as of late.  As with every story, this one has a beginning, and that beginning will start on March 6th.

March 6th was a day like every other one has been for the past few months.  Wake up, make sure the wife is okay, and start cleaning up.  I hadn’t had a chance to really clean anything because I’d been busy with work.  So, I spent the most of the day getting to work on the living room, the kitchen, and the office.  Megan’s room was pretty much ready, so I wasn’t really concerned about that.  A bit later on, my wife woke up and started moving around a bit.  She did what she could, but at nine months pregnant, it wasn’t much.  She went to take a nap around 3 or so, and I followed suit.  I woke up at 5 and went back to work on the office.  She got up a bit later and the unexpected happened.

Her water broke.

I wasn’t quite aware if that was what it really was, so I asked the one person who I knew I could turn to for advice: my mom.  She put my sister on three way and I asked how I would know if it was the case.  She told me, and I responded that I think this is what happened, but I didn’t know.  I told her that I was just gonna take her to the hospital, and they wanted me to keep them posted.  I also posted the following on Facebook and Twitter:

At the hospital. May have a water breaking situation. Will keep you all posted.

A few hours later, it was confirmed; her water had indeed broke, and Megan was on the way.  Sleep was gonna be nonexistent for the rest of the night.  We got admitted, and prepped, and the on-call doctor said that they would wait until the morning until her regular doctor came in.  So, the rest of the night was spent making sure my wife was as comfortable as possible and getting myself ready.  I ended up having to drive back to our apartment so I could get the stuff I didn’t get in time.

The next morning, we were greeted by the anesthesiologist, who gave us the rundown of what we had to expect.  They then took her to the delivery room, and I was left in the other room to wait.  And, while waiting, I did exactly what I did the day I got married: I hyped myself up.  To the outside observer, I had to have looked ridiculous.  I didn’t care, though; I was ready for my daughter to get here, and I was getting myself ready for what I was about to see.  A few minutes later, they came and got me and led me to the room.  When I walked in, my wife was laying on the delivery table, and she looked like she was being crucified.  Her arms were outstretched and strapped to the table.  The doctor told me to stay on the side of the curtain that didn’t show what they were doing.  They asked me if I wanted to see over the curtain, and I said yes.

At 7:54, the next thing I saw was my daughter’s feet.

Shortly thereafter, I saw her pee.

I followed the nurse over who had her and I marveled at her as they went through cleaning her up a bit and wrapping her in her receiving cloths.  I then got to carry her to the nursery.  For those few moments, I was the happiest person in the world.  They did the weighing and measuring, and I got to stay with her most of the time.  I saw her get her Vitamin K shot as well as monitoring her temperature.  Then, they kicked me out because the pediatrician needed to examine all of the babies.  I sat outside and watched her from the nursery window.  I also saw them wheel my wife past; we made eye contact and smiled at each other.

IMAG0078Later, I went back and forth from the nursery to the room as I split my focus between the two of them.  They eventually wheeled her in, and we got to spend some one on one time with our baby girl.  They wheeled her back in to clean her up and run a hearing test on her.  They also said they would keep her in the nursery overnight while we tried to rest.  Thankfully, the next day was Mardi Gras, so I didn’t have to go to work and was able to spend more quality time with her before returning to work the next day.

Now, I could go on and on about this, but I don’t think I will.  I’ll just say this much; I love this little girl more than life itself.  Having her in my life is the greatest thing I could have ever imagined, and it’s something I will cherish for the rest of my life.  I’ve posted at least one picture a day on Facebook chronicling her story from day one to day 365, and I got that idea from Dan Patrick.  He said that the baby would never change any more than she will in the first year of her life, and I’m seeing that up close and personal.

I don’t know if I’m going to get everything right; in fact, I know there are gonna be some things I get wrong.  However, the fun will arise when I learn from my mistakes and see her smile at me.  I’ll then know that it was completely worth it.  Why do I say that?  Because it’s worth it now.

IMAG0206

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | March 13, 2011

Social Networking, Movie Style

social_network_xlgThis has been an entertaining week for me, and in order to end it on a good note, I felt the need to watch a movie.  I had been hearing rave reviews about The Social Network – not to mention the success it had during awards season, so I decided to give it a go.  The Columbia Pictures film stars Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, and Rooney Mara.  I have to admit, that the premise of the movie was a bit bizarre, but it was intriguing.  I mean, let’s be honest here; the basic idea of a movie about Facebook is enough to make you sit and scratch your head and wonder why anyone would want to watch that.  However, the execution of the movie is just phenomenal.

The movie begins in 2003 at a bar near Harvard University.  Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) is trying to have a conversation with Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), but Mark is busy bouncing through several different conversations at once.  Eventually, Erica gets to the point and ends their relationship.  In a drunken rage, Mark writes a scathing blog about Erica and gets the idea to create a website rating women on their looks side-by-side.  Hacking into every house at Harvard, he uses an algorithm created by his friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and creates FaceMash.com.  The site itself proves to be incredibly popular and it crashes the Harvard servers overnight.  Of course, this doesn’t endear him to the female population on campus, and he receives a six month academic probation based on crashing the server.  He also gets the attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) and Divya Narenda (Max Minghella).  They have an idea for a site called HarvardConnect.com, but they need someone who is a brilliant programmer.  They set up a meeting with him, and pitch him the idea.  What happens next is a cavalcade of epic proportions, including meeting the founder of Napster, Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), incorporating the site, and lawsuits galore.

I’m honestly not familiar with Jesse Eisenberg’s body of work, but I hear it’s unique.  It’s my understanding that he was the guy you get if you couldn’t get Michael Cera.  After this movie, I think it may be safe to say that Michael Cera is now the guy you get if you can’t get Jesse Eisenberg.  He plays Mark Zuckerberg as a jittery college kid who gets over being jilted by creating the social networking service of a lifetime.  He plays Zuckerberg like an asshole, and he has a one-track mind about things.  He means well, but he doesn’t quite get it when people are mad at him.

Andrew Garfield is spectacular in this movie as Eduardo Saverin.  Looking at him onscreen is like watching a brilliant painter at work.  I wasn’t quite familiar with his body of work, but I will be soon.  His calm demeanor is a beautiful contrast to Eisenberg’s frenetic pace.  You could tell that Saverin had a lot of concern for his friend, and when you see his reaction when things go south, it’s poetry in motion.

Armie Hammer and Max Minghella are great performers in their parts, but I have to admit, Hammer is incredibly phenomenal as the Winklevoss twins.  Yes…twins.  One person played two people, and not only did he play it well, he gave them completely different personalities.  Of course, they had to use Josh Pence as a body double for one of the other twins, but it was still spectacular to see him basically act to himself.  Minghella plays Divya Narenda as an angry genius who wants to get the ball rolling in paying back Zuckerberg for what he’s done.

Rooney Mara plays Erica Albright, the woman who ends up becoming the muse for the social networking site that defines all social networking sites.  You don’t see her on the screen a lot, but her presence is felt throughout the entire film.  Not only that, but she stares daggers through Zuckerberg and you feel the hurt and angst that she feels for him.

The movie was directed by David Fincher, and it was a brilliant piece of work.  He frames the movie wonderfully, and every shot counts.  He directed a script that came from the brilliant Aaron Sorkin, and the dialogue pops with every word the cast says.  If there is anyone out there who wants to learn how to write a screenplay (raises hand), this is the guy to learn from.  The music was fantastically done by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and it fits every scene.  I was disappointed that it beat out my personal favorite composer – that would be Hans Zimmer, but after watching this movie, I can see why it did.

There are certain movies that define a generation, and The Social Network is definitely one of them.  It is a brilliant piece of work, and the tagline for the movie fits.  It is definitely true that you can’t make friends without making a few enemies, and I can’t even imagine making 500 million friends with the natural amount of enemies.  I rate this movie at a five on the More Epic Than Love Jones scale, and if you haven’t seen it, you should.

You won’t be disappointed.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | February 27, 2011

Just Plain Greedy…

While waiting for the Oscars, I decided to look at my burgeoning Netflix queue and find something to kill the time while I do some housework and get ready for the Oscars (You can read about it here).  The movie I settled on was the classic 80s masterpiece Wall Street.  The 20th Century Fox film stars Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, and Terence Stamp.  I must admit that I had been hesitant about watching this movie, although I’m not quite sure why.  It’s a classic form of cinema, and it helped to sculpt the financial world as we see it today.  In fact, according to this article, it’s even made Wall Street what it is today.  So…it was time to make it my mission in life to see how good it actually is.  Suffice it to say, it’s pretty good.

The movie starts with junior stockbroker Bud Grant (Charlie Sheen) struggling to make a living and try to make it to the top.  He spends a majority of his time trying to get involved with his idol Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), while trying to be an honest man like his father Carl (Martin Sheen).  Carl’s a blue collar worker for Bluestar Airlines, a small company with big goals.  After lots of wrangling, Bud manages to get a meeting with Gekko, and the first go around isn’t the greatest in the world…in fact, it’s safe to say it was on the verge of failing miserably. All of that changed when he realized that his father had given him inside information.  This led to the beginning of a partnership between the two…for good and for ill.

This movie just had splendid acting from all members.  The scenes with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen are splendid, whereas the scenes with father Sheen and his son were great as well.  They times Daryl Hannah was on screen was definitely worth paying attention to, while Terence Stamp tends to play the heroic foil whenever he steps on the scene.  In fact, it’s pretty awesome to see how his presence even trumps the greatness that Michael Douglas has.

The movie is directed by Oliver Stone, and he’s at his level best in this movie.  The way he frames his scenes are just fantastic.  There are certain scenes where they’re standing in front of a window, but he casts shadows on him to set the mood for the scene itself.  The score is by Stewart Copeland, and it’s fairly unmemorable, what with its incredible synthesized beats.

I’m really disappointed in myself. I wish I would’ve seen this sooner.  I definitely enjoyed watching Michael Douglas in what would become his most memorable role, and seeing Charlie Sheen go toe to toe with him was fun as well.  Everyone had a part to play, and they played it well.  This movie warrants four More Epic than Love Jones, and it was a fantastic two hours.  The only reason it doesn’t hit all five is because the look really doesn’t stand the test of time.  The story is top notch, though.  In this case, greed really is good.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | February 25, 2011

And the Oscar Goes to…

So, Sunday is the big day.  Sunday is the day where Hollywood’s royalty get together and celebrate the best of the best.  Yep…Sunday is Oscar Sunday.  As a movie lover, I’ve always loved watching the Oscars, if only to nitpick the winners and shout at the Academy’s insistence to reward movies that are strange at best – for example, awarding an Oscar for Best Visual Effects to The Golden Compass over Transformers.  Yeah; I’m still bitter.  Anyway, this isn’t about the 80th Academy Awards; this is about the 83rd Academy Awards.  To that end, I am going to give write-ups and predictions for the major awards, and just give my winners for everything else.  So, let’s begin with the awards from the bottom up, shall we?

Best Visual Effects – Iron Man 2

Best Film Editing – Black Swan

Best Costume Design – The King’s Speech

Best Makeup – The Wolfman

Best Cinematography – Inception

Best Art Direction – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Best Sound Mixing – Inception

Best Sound Editing – Tron: Legacy

Best Original Song – “We Belong Together” (Toy Story 3)

Best Original Score – The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

Best Animated Short – The Lost Thing

Best Live Action Short – The Confession

Best Documentary Short – Poster Girl

Best Documentary Feature – Exit Through the Gift Shop

Best Foreign Language Film – Biutiful

Best Animated Feature – Toy Story 3

Best Adapted Screenplay – The Social Network

Best Original Screenplay – The King’s Speech

Okay…now, here are the “Big Six” categories; these are the categories that most people care about, and where I’m willing to bet the most wagers are going to come from.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees are Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), and Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom).  The good money is on Melissa Leo, as she’s cleaned up this awards season.  The wild card would be Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit.  Honestly, it’s a bit of a disappointment that she’s in this category, because she’s clearly the lead actress in the movie.  I understand why they put her in that category, but I don’t agree with it.  My pick: Melissa Leo – The Fighter

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees are Christian Bale (The Fighter), John Hakwes (Winter’s Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech).  Let’s be honest here…this one is Christian Bale vs. the field.  I would try to break this one down, but I’d be wasting your time and mine.  I guess the only other person in this lineup that could challenge Mr. Bale would be Jeremy Renner, but I don’t see it happening.  My pick: Christian Bale – The Fighter

Best Actress

The nominees are Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).  Much like the fields prior to this one, this is Natalie Portman vs. everyone else.  This is the reason why Hailee Steinfeld is nominated for Best Supporting Actress; they don’t want her to go up against the juggernaut known as Ms. Portman.  I guess if they just wanted to be different (and piss me slap the hell off in the process), they could go with Annette Bening, but I don’t see it happening.  The power of Portman is too strong.  My pick: Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Best Actor

The nominees are Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), and James Franco (127 Hours).  For this year, they might as well call this category Colin Firth vs. the World.  The only people who could try to squeeze in there would be Jeff Bridges or Jesse Eisenberg.  Bridges already has his, and Eisenberg still has time to get his.  So, there you have it.  My pick: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech

Best Director

The nominees are Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Ethan and Joel Coen (True Grit), David Fincher (The Social Network), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), David O. Russell (The Fighter).  This is the one where I’m the most unhappy with due to the omission of Christopher Nolan for Inception.  But, I digress.  Anyway, this is a tough category as all of the directors have done splendid jobs with their movies.  However, I’m going to buck the trend of the professional prognosticators and go with my gut.  But, if I decided to go with logic, my pick would be David Fincher for The Social Network.  But, I’m not.  My pick: Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan

Best Picture

The nominees are 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone.  This is another one of those where I have two thoughts for this.  Let’s cut five of these out of the way now…The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone, and – I really hate to do this – Inception, thank you for playing.  Now, picking from the other five, I think the Academy has a soft spot for British period pieces.  So, just going from those five, I’m going to go with The King’s Speech.  It’s beautiful, well written, and well performed.  However, if I put the other five back in, I have to go with my heart.  My pick: Inception

So, there you have it.  Just remember…this is just my opinion; I’m not changing mine, but I’m not against hearing yours.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | February 13, 2011

Apocalypse Now

Superman-Batman-ApocalypseNetflix is a wonderful thing.  For $8 a month, I can stream just about anything I want to my PS3, iPod Touch, or laptop.  Today, I chose the laptop to kick back and watch Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.  The Warner Bros. Animated feature brings back the voices of Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, and Ed Asner.  It also adds the voices of Summer Glau, André Braugher, and Julianne Grossman.  As someone who’s enjoyed the films from the DC Animated Universe, it was my hope that it wouldn’t disappoint.  Suffice it to say, it didn’t.

Endowed with powers equal to Superman’s, Supergirl (Summer Glau) splashes down on Earth in the midst of a hail of Kryptonite. No sooner has she landed than the problems begin for Superman (Tim Daly), Batman (Kevin Conroy), and Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), who must rescue her when Darkseid (André Braugher) and Granny Goodness (Ed Asner) nab her. To thwart Darkseid’s plans to make Supergirl one of his Female Furies, the trio must work with Barda (Julianne Grossman) to confront the powerful enemies Darkseid has assembled around his control center in Apokolips.

There are three voice actors that I really get a kick out of hearing, and they are Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, and Susan Eisenberg.  They were the richest of the voices in the DC Animated universe, and it was great to hear them take their iconic roles again.  They were joined by the distinctive voices of André Braugher, Ed Asner, and Summer Glau.  Braugher brings an air of regality to the sinister Darkseid, whereas Ed Asner returned to the role of Granny Goodness, playing the evil leader of the Female Furies with a hint of sadistic glee.  Summer Glau stepped into the shoes of Kara Zor-El, and she performs admirably, if not a bit stilted early on.

The movie was directed by Lauren Montgomery, and she did a pretty fair job of handling everything; however, I think the animation itself could’ve been a bit better.  The music was done by Braden Kimball, and it was completely and totally unmemorable.

I enjoyed this movie.  The animation didn’t sit too well with me, nor did the lackluster score, but the story was rich and the action scenes were intense.  Those alone are enough to rate this as three More Epic than Love Jones.  It’s a great follow-up to Public Enemies, and it’s a fun way to sit through a Sunday afternoon.

superman-batman-wonder-woman-apocalypse

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | January 22, 2011

My Idea of a Good Movie

I was talking to a friend of mine a while ago, and we always get into an argument about my pickiness when it comes to movies.  I can find something wrong that most people would just ignore.  For example, I loved the original Bad Boys, but I hated Bad Boys II.  Why?  Well, it wasn’t just because it seemed like it was being misogynistic just for the sake of being misogynistic (which it was).  It also wasn’t just because it looked like every clichéd Buddy Cop movie on HGH (which it did).  It didn’t even have anything to do with the fact that it had none of the charm of the first one, replacing it with rote one-liners and jokes that swung and missed more often than it connected.

No.  I hated Bad Boys II because of the music.

Now, I know what you’re saying; “But, Joseph; that’s a weird thing to hate a movie for.  Why on earth would you do that?”  I’ll explain that in a bit.  First things first, you  need to understand what I look for in a movie.  For me, there have to be four things working in harmony before I give it my thumbs up, and those things are: director, writer, actor, and score.  Still confused?  Allow me to elucidate.

Director

The director is important because he or she actually puts the cast through the rigors of the story.  Every movie has one, be it a Hollywood blockbuster, or something a stoner threw up on YouTube (take that one as you will).  They range from the good (Darren Aronofsky, Steven Spielberg, Edgar Wright), the average (George Lucas, James Cameron, Tim Story), and the bad (Uwe Boll, Tyler Perry, Paul W.S. Anderson). 

Now, those categories are interchangeable depending on the type of movie you like, but I’ll say this much: I’d run out to see the latest Spielberg movie before I do a Tyler Perry film.  And, if you like Tyler Perry, then that’s okay; I have no problem with him per se.  My problem lies with the same one-note movies he pushes out.  If he’d challenge himself for once and do something no one expected, then he could be a very good filmmaker.  Until then, he’ll always be a hack in my eyes.

Writer

The writer is important because they actually create the story for the director to direct and the cast to perform.  This is important because you kinda need a direction to go in with a movie.  Sure, you can wing it and improv your head off, but not every movie can work like that.  Could you imagine a movie like The Godfather with Al Pacino ad-libbing every fourth line?  Didn’t think so.

I’m more willing to give a pass on average writing, especially if I know the writers have a good track record (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, I’m looking at you).  This duo specifically was responsible for M:I III, Alias, Fringe, and Star Trek.  However, they were also responsible for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and I think we can all agree that TF2 was a steaming pile of dog turd laced with arsenic.

Actor

I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but I will.  The actors are important because without them, there wouldn’t be a movie.  You can have the most beautiful direction, the most amazing story, and the most thrilling score possible, but without the actors to portray the characters, you’re just wasting everyone’s time.  The actors can make or break a movie.  Don’t believe me?  Picture Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly or Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones.  Go on; I’ll wait.  Need a relatively more current example?  Imagine Will Smith as Neo.

There used to be a time where I didn’t understand how an actor could look bored in a movie; in fact, I thought that was the strangest anomaly possible.  Then, I watched Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  Shia LaBoeuf – who is a VERY good actor – looked completely bored in that movie, and I was bored watching him.  Of course, when you’re acting next to blue screens and the beautiful but talentless Megan Fox, I can’t blame you.  I think I’d be bored, too.

Score

The score is important because it can bring a depth of emotion to a movie that not even the actors can.  Sure, the actors can look scared or terse or in love, but the right music behind it really brings the point home.  Sometimes, the music can be so good that no one wants to follow behind the original composer.  Take Superman for example.  Everyone knows the venerable score by John Williams:

John Williams–Superman Theme

Now, this is the version done by John Ottman for the much maligned (and deservedly so) Superman Returns, which I consider a love sonnet to the original:

John Ottman–Superman Theme (Best I could find)

 

Yes, there’s a difference.  You have to listen closely, but you can hear a slight tonal difference.  Doesn’t make it any better or worse, but – much like Superman Returns was to Superman II, this was a John Williams-type score.  My point?  Well, there was a rumor that Hans Zimmer was going to score the new Superman movie.  Zimmer shot that down, basically saying he didn’t want to touch the great John Williams score.  Personally, I would’ve loved to see what Zimmer could do with a Superman movie, but we’ll never see that happen.  Instead, we’ll hear Zimmer’s works with the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Now, this brings me back full-circle to the beginning of this blog; my dislike for Bad Boys II because of the score.  The original had a memorable score by Mark Mancina, and it’s one that stuck with you for days after watching the movie.  Bad Boys II was done by Trevor Rabin with an assist by Harry Gregson-Williams and Dr. Dre.  These are three musicians who are – when separate – great at their craft.  However, when you put the three together, you get a load of mush.  Adding that to the other stuff I mentioned before made me want to pull a Scott Pilgrim about halfway through it.

What’s a Scott Pilgrim, you ask?  Well…

Uh…you know what? *crash* He just left.
Posted by: MrJoseph45 | January 3, 2011

The Top Ten of 2010…

…as mandated by me.

Over 2010, I saw a lot of movies.  Some were great, some were good, and some were terrible.  Aw, hell; who am I fooling?  A lot of them were terrible.  Of course, I can’t let the year stay gone without trying to do a top ten list for the year before.  When the time comes for the next list, maybe I’ll do it in a timely fashion, but I ran out of time.  Better late than never.

That being said, let’s get this list out of the way, shall we?

10. The Book of Eli

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What I said then: This movie is full of action, but it’s also full of hope…it would be worth at least a rental when it’s released to Blu-ray.

What I say now: I can’t dispute that a whole lot, but I haven’t picked it up on Blu-ray, so I’m not 100% certain if it holds firm.  I’ll have to take my own advice and see how I feel afterwards.

9. The A-Team

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What I said then: …I was really entertained.  I laughed at the funny parts, and I didn’t gag at the horrible ones.  It was a real treat to just check my brain in at the door and watch four goofballs try to fly a tank.

What I say now: The ridiculousness of it still lingers even if the movie itself doesn’t.  I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it again, but stranger things have happened.  Maybe I’ll try to catch it again on Netflix.

8. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

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What I said then: Personally, I enjoyed the movie, and I’m looking forward to its eventual Blu-ray release.

What I say now: I’ve watched this movie several times since it’s release to Blu-ray, and I’m still entertained by it.  I get the disdain that most people have from it, especially those that read the book series and say that the movies don’t compare.  I still liked it.

7. Iron Man 2

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What I said then: It has just enough action to keep you on the edge of your seats, and the plot moves along quite nicely.  It definitely succeeds as being better than the original…it’s witty, it’s action packed, and it’s just suspenseful enough to not be too overdrawn and melodramatic.

What I say now: Realizing what Marvel is trying to do, I understand why it isn’t as gritty as Jon Favreau would’ve hoped for.  Unfortunately, his butting heads with Marvel execs cost him a job at directing Iron Man 3.  The fact that they basically used this movie as a prop for The Avengers knocks it down a peg for me.

6. Kick-Ass

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What I said then: I’ll say that (the actors) all brought a sort of maniacal energy to the movie.

What I say now: I haven’t watched this movie since it was in the theaters, but I do plan on it.  I want to see if it still holds up, or if it’s a dead duck.

5. The Expendables

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What I said then: …You don’t go to a movie like this to see Shakespeare; you see a movie like this because you want to see stuff get blown up.  This film is a cacophony of death, destruction, and mayhem, and any child of the 80s…will love it.

What I say now: I still have fond memories of this movie, even though I haven’t seen it since.  However, I still loved the time I spent watching it.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

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What I said then: (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1) started sad and really didn’t lighten up.  There was one moment of frivolity, but even that was short-lived, as more despair came into play…it even ENDED sad.

What I say now: This movie is still fresh in my mind, but my review of it hasn’t changed.  Even though they threw in characters that hadn’t been seen on the film – at all, it still made us feel like we had been watching them since day one.

3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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What I said then: …it was like a love sonnet to the video game era.  If you grew up playing video games, this movie is for you.  If you grew up reading comic books…this movie is for you.  If you grew up with both, then you’ll be in heaven.

What I say now: No change.  This movie is an epic of epic epicness, and I can watch it any time without it feeling stale.

2. Black Swan

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What I said then: (Black Swan) was beautiful, haunting, and damning all at once.  It made me feel uncomfortable, but it wasn’t so uncomfortable that I wanted to turn away.  At the end of the movie, you realize that you’ve gone on that descent with Nina, and it’s an exquisitely painful fall at that.

What I say now: One of my close friends said it best: “I need a therapist after seeing it!”  Personally, my feelings haven’t changed at all; in fact, they’re still just as potent as they were when I first saw it.

1. Inception

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What I said then: I couldn’t find a whole lot of faults in (this movie), and it really sucked me in from beginning to end.

What I say now: This is a mindbender of a movie, and if you’re not really paying attention, you’ll be lost.  I think the three kicks scene was the most entertaining scene I’ve seen in cinema.

So, there you have it…my top ten of 2010.  Agree or disagree?  Let me know!

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