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Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Hurt Locker

I didn't know what a "hurt locker" was but figured the movie by the same name would offer an explanation. Welp, I sat through all 130 minutes of the film today, and I still don't know what a hurt locker is.

My expectations for this Iraq war flick couldn't have been higher, given all the buzz it is getting. Oscar buzz even. And, the first amazingly shot, nail-biting sequence where Guy Pearce and crew try to defuse a bomb made me believe this movie would live up the hype. Alas, it was downhill after that scene. And, s-l-o-w-l-y.

If the movie is supposed to say that war is hell and confusing as all get out, it does. I was confused from start to finish. Who just got shot? What was his motivation? Is that guy really an insurgent -- or just an innocent Iraqi who stumbled in to this scene at the wrong time? Hey, what's that kid doing alive? I thought he just got killed. And, what the hell is a hurt locker? It's all a cloudy mess, and it never gets explained. That may well be the reality of war, but as moviegoers, we deserve a bit more.

These characters are so ill-defined, it's hard to tell who's who. It's pretty impossible to care about any of them, when we know so little about them.

My mind kept wandering to that magnificent, three-hour masterpiece about the Vietnam War, The Deer Hunter. In that film, the first hour is dedicated to introducing us to the characters in their hometown. We know where they came from and who they were before war, so we can see what impact war has on them.

The battle scenes and the bomb-defusing scenes in this film feel repetitive. Not only did I feel like I was watching the same scene over and over, but I started to feel nauseous. The hand-held camera used throughout the film does more than make you feel uneasy about the goings-on. It made me queasy.

I realize I am in the minority on this one, but I don't think this war flick adds anything new to the genre. Skip it.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Let's get this straight from the beginning. This movie is not for everybody. It is not for my parents, for instance. It is not for any of my parents' friends. It may not even be for anyone of my parents' generation.

But, it is soooo for me.

Offensive? Thoroughly. But, shockingly hilarious. Hilariously shocking. The popularity of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat may have meant that he could never fool anyone with that disguise again, but he sure does fool plenty of people with his gay supermodel schtick.

I cringe to think that real people were had by this act. I do feel badly for Ron Paul, although he didn't do anything to embarrass himself. And, Austrian Bruno can't help it that he confused Ron Paul with cross-dressing RuPaul. Honest mistake.

This movie shows that there is actually a limit to Paula Abdul's stupidity, and that's good to know. With Bruno as her host and interviewer, she is willing to use a Mexican man as a chair (don't ask; it has to be seen to be believed), but she does draw the line at ... oh, I can't even type it. You should just see it. Or not.

If you would be offended by an exercise bicycle that's been rigged up to serve as a sex toy, then you definitely shouldn't see this. But, if you see humor in a minister who specializes in converting gay people to straights telling Bruno that he knows women are nags and talk too much and sometimes don't ever get to the point, but that we have some good qualities, too, then you may be the target audience for Bruno. As for me, I guffawed from beginning to delightful end. See it ... as long as you acknowledge you've been warned.

Food, Inc.

The documentary, Food, Inc., could be classified as a horror film. Seeing how farm animals have been engineered and the atrocious conditions in which they live their brief lives is horrifying. I am only a little embarrassed to admit that I covered my eyes and sobbed through parts of this movie.

Yet, it begs to be seen. Someone in the film makes the point that it’s crazy that Americans need to be educated on where our food comes from, but it’s the truth. We have become eerily far removed from something as basic as the food we eat.

Our farms have become factories. A few giant food manufacturers have been able to demand – and get – products exactly as they want them from American farmers. When one brave farmer stood up to Tyson Foods and said she wanted to keep some windows (for ventilation) in her over-crowded chicken houses, Tyson dropped her as a supplier.

Even if animal welfare isn’t a concern of yours, the movie is horrifying on other levels, too. Those herds of cattle that have to stand in their own feces? That’s where e. coli gets started. Our health is dependent on the health of the animals we eat. And the food those animals eat.

You’d be hard-pressed to eliminate corn from your diet, even if you tried. Guess what farm-raised fish eat? That’s right – and corn is a food not typically found in either fresh or salt water. We’ve freakin’ taught fish to eat corn. And, you can bet it’s corn that was genetically engineered in a lab.

And, the FDA – the government agency tasked with watching over our food supply? Thanks to political cronyism in both parties, it’s generally headed by former executives from one of the big food conglomerates the agency is supposed to be regulating.

Terrifying, yet hopeful. See it. Tell friends to see it. And, then go support a local farmer. See it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Every Little Step

A Chorus Line, as everyone knows, is a much-beloved Broadway musical. It's based on the experiences of actual Broadway performers. Every Little Step is a documentary about the audition and casting of the recent revival of A Chorus Line. So, you meet real people who are auditioning to play characters based on real people.

And, many of the original cast and crew of A Chorus Line were involved in the casting and production of the revival. So, you have real people auditioning to play characters based on real people, and -- in some cases -- those real people are the very ones judging the auditions and deciding who will play them.

It's all very circular.

These Broadway stars and wannabes are multi-talented. They have to sing, dance and act -- and they have to do it all well. Every singer/dancer/actor in New York (and elsewhere, for that matter) seems to want a part in A Chorus Line. And, why wouldn't they? This is the story of their lives -- the endless rehearsals, crowded auditions, heartbreaking rejections and the faded glory of being a Broadway star a little past your prime.

A fascinating look behind the curtain. And, you get to hear What I Did For Love. See it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Away We Go

Away We Go is an example of what can happen to likable actors (adorable John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph in the lead roles) and an acclaimed director (Sam Mendes) when they meet up with a crappy script. The script in this case, co-written by hipster authors (and husband and wife) Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida tries way too hard to be quirky. Quirky it is, and I'm OK with that. It's just that this script strains to achieve what, say, Diablo Cody made look effortless in Juno.

Rudolph plays Verona, a crunchy woman who lives with -- but refuses to marry --Burt, her hirsute, clueless boyfriend, played by Krasinski. Verona, whose parents are both deceased, gets pregnant early in the film. Burt's folks, who live nearby, will be the baby's only grandparents. When that self-absorbed couple announces they'll soon be moving out of the country, right before the birth of their grandchild, Verona and Burt set about looking for a new city to call home so their baby girl will grow up near family.

They hop from city to city, crashing with crazy old colleagues, family members and college buddies, as they try to find a new home base. The script is so carelessly written that one family the clueless couple stays with -- college chums of the 33-year-old Verona -- has what seems to be four or five adopted children, some teenagers. The husband confides in Burt that the wife has just suffered her fifth miscarriage and, well, shame on them for waiting so late to try to have kids. Huh?! Sure looks like they started their family about 12 or 13 years ago. When they would've likely still been in college.

In another scene meant to be touching, Verona and her sister climb into a bathtub in a showroom and discuss their late parents. Verona weeps. For me, it was just contrived and cloying.

A supporting cast that includes the usually magnificent Allison Janney tries mightily for laughs that never come. Maggie Gyllenhaal as a hippie professor/earth mother is the lone entertaining character we meet on this road trip. She's far from likable, but she is memorable. Which is more than you can say for the rest of the movie.

Away We Go is little more than a series of vignettes with oddball and annoying -- you can't even call them characters -- caricatures. Skip it.