Sunday, January 31, 2010
Director: Simon West
Starring: Camilla Belle
When a stranger calls... it's simple: DON'T ANSWER! Seriously, that's what Caller ID is for. This remake of a 1979 film was particularly unnecessary -- the original was mediocre at best, and this one is barely an improvement. But it seems to be a Hollywood standard that there must be at least one new teen thriller in theaters every other month, but I get the feeling even teens would find this movie boring and predictable. You could fast-forward to the last 20 minutes and not miss anything, and STILL predict the ending.
This movie puts the "ill" in "thriller" -- besides being boring and predictable, it frequently resorts to thriller/horror cliches of sudden sound effects and music stings in order to create suspense.
I watched this at the dollar theater, and that's what it's worth: a cheap thrill -- perhaps fitting for a cheap date, but not something you'll want to watch at home unless you plan to make out with somebody.
Please take my advice and avoid this "Stranger." Instead, check out "Running Scared" (2006), "The Jacket" (2005) or "The Machinist" (2004) and you can thank me later.
The Best of Times (1986) *** (out of 5 asterisks)
Director: Roger Spottiswoode (Turner & Hooch, Air America, Tomorrow Never Dies)
Starring: Robin Williams, Kurt Russell
This is quite literally "fantasy football," but it's wish fulfilment in pure Hollywood fashion. So, yes, it's cliched and predictable, but it's definitely a "feel good" flick and it's funny too. If you enjoy sports movies, Robin Williams or Kurt Russell it's worth watching.
Versus (2000) ***1/2 (out of 5 asterisks)
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Cast: Some Japanese actors that even if I recognized who them, I couldn't spell their names correctly
A martial arts zombie movie -- Kung Fu meets Night of the Living Dead. It's like a live-action anime. And it's truly silly and over-the-top ridiculous, yet never takes itself seriously. It's mindless fun, funny and entertaining. Only thing I didn't care much for was the ending -- seemed tacked on and too obvious an attempt at a twist ending. However, it's chock full of low-budget, B-movie fun. Enjoy it with pizza and beer and friends who also love martial arts and zombie movies.
The Rescuers (1977) *** (out of 5 asterisks)
Director: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Art Stevens
Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Michelle Stacy
Nicely animated and is just a cute, fun, amusing movie all the way through. (And despite my disdain for mostly unnecessary Disney animated sequels, "The Rescuers Down Under" is excellent and in many ways trumps the original.) Recommended for family movie night, or something to keep the kids occupied for almost 90 minutes.
As a lifelong animation addict, it's surprising that I waited 30 years after its release to finally watch this. For any animation fan familiar with the work of director/animator/artist Don Bluth (An American Tail, The Secret of N.I.M.H., Anastasia), you'll find Don's distinct visual fingerprints all over it. Bluth, who served as the film's directing animator, has a flair for animating animals, especially cats and mice which this movie has in spades.
I really enjoyed the vocal performances too -- the "celebrity" voices are a great fit for the characters and -- unlike a number of other animated films that feature celebrity voices -- they don't distract or pull you out of the film based on who they are or how they perform.
My only complaint about the film is not about the film at all, but the DVD release. Disney's 2003 version is skimpy on bonus content, lacks THX certification, and some parts of the film look flecky, grainy and washed out. This film is long overdue to be pulled from The Vault for a proper restored release on DVD and Blu-Ray for Disney's Platinum or Diamond Collection.
And while I love watching movies, I hate wasting my money or time on a bad one. And hence the need for checking reviews in advance.
But back in the late 80s, I decided that reading movie reviews was a waste of my time.
I was fed up with pompous and overly-critical film critics telling me what they thought was good or bad about movies, especially movies that I enjoyed. Film critics tend to pan most commercial and genre films (scifi, action-adventure, fantasy, animation) and then spend paragraphs blathering on about how great some mind-numbingly slow drama or indie art house film is. In my experience, following their suggestions on movies is usually disappointing.
And I always thought it odd and even unnecessary that anyone would need 10 paragraphs and pages even to review any movie...unless you really, really love it, I guess. (And just how often have you heard a film critic say that they "loved" any movie?) I also hate that a lot of film critics are so detailed in their commentary that they spoil the movie and can influence your opinion of the film before you've even seen it.
I just wanted a quick synopsis -- a short and sweet overview -- with no spoilers and preferably from a regular movie fan to tell simply say whether or not a movie is worth watching based on the overall entertainment value.
So I went looking for such a thing and was rather disappointed to not find such a thing. After all, this was long before such helpful sites like metacritic.com, rottentomatoes.com, imdb.com and various movie blogs existed. (In the 80s, if you told someone you had a "blog" they would have told you to see a doctor or therapist.)
And since I couldn't find any resources for capsule reviews like I wanted to see, I decided to start writing them myself. And thus "Craig's Capsule Reviews" was birthed.
I started by posting capsule movie reviews on a few movie fan forums. And even though I've technically been blogging since 1999, it didn't occur to me until 2009 that maybe I should start my own movie review blog. So in addition to the photo blog here, I'm going to be continuing my "legacy" of spoiler-free capsule reviews.
Funny, it took me 9 paragraphs to introduce my capsule movie reviews. Does that make me a hypocrite or simply ironic? And isn't "ironic" just an "iron" with an "ic" at the end? And is it too obvious that I've been up most of the night battling insomnia and an attack of sinus congestion?
Well, that makes 10 paragraphs now. I should stop.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
But this one is quite possibly the best thing since spliced genes.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
So I ask my fellow "Ghostheads" (that's Ghostbusters fans to everyone else) to join me in the campaign I'm launching against Columbia TriStar Home Video for this travesty. I'm starting a petition, contacting the NAACP, and calling for a boycott of all future Columbia TriStar Home Video releases.
Wait... you say the DVD title itself has since been discontinued and is now out of print? And that in 1994 Columbia TriStar Home Video was renamed Sony Pictures Home Entertainment?
Well, nevermind then!
In related news, Harold Raimis (aka Dr. Egon Spengler) said in a 12.28.2009 interview that Ghostbusters III is "progressing with plans to shoot [summer 2010] and release in 2011":
Dan [Aykroyd] did write a spec GB3 screenplay a few years ago, but no one was motivated to pursue it. Now, 25 years after the original, there seems to be some willingness to proceed and apparently a substantial public appetite for a sequel. We’ll introduce some new young Ghostbusters, and all the old guys will be in it, too. Think Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future.
Ignoring that the "artist" who crafted this was likely insane, or demon-possessed (or both), I'm trying to imagine someone buying this at its original retail price. What sort of man would look at it and think it would make a good gift for a woman?
An insane man, probably. Or certainly a stupid one.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
DAD: I just bought tickets for our family vacation. We're going to Iceland!KIDS: Yay! Wait... Iceland?LITTLE JOHNNY: Are we being punished or do you just hate us?LITTLE SUSIE: What the @#$%, Dad! Are you insane?DAD: But I read on the Internet that it's "the perfect place to take your little ones"! So get packed! We leave tomorrow!KIDS: We're calling Social Services.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Craig's Craigslist Guide for Performers
(via my original blog, now in its 10th year: Voice Actors in the News)
* Shirt photographed by Craig Crumpton Dec. 2009 at a thrift store in Winder, GA.