Monday, August 30, 2010

A Town Called Panic: Review

Ever so often, the movies come up with a film so unusual, so bizarrely hilarious and confidently itself, that you are willing to forgive it's flaws. And after a drought season of horrible horrible movies, A Town Called Panic was a breath of fresh air.
How the filmmakers were able to make this movie only with a collection of plastic toys so enjoyable to watch and painstakingly funny is beyond me. Panic was made on a zero budget mind you, and it looks fantastic.
Panic is a Belgian film that takes place in a small village and centers around three housemates, Horse, Indian and Cowboy. It's Horse's birthday and Indian and cowboy come up with a brilliant plan to give him a homemade barbecue but the plan backfires when they mistakenly order 50 million bricks which destroys their home. This sets off a chain of really weird events ranging from masochistic scientists to dishonest merpeople to a snowball launching penguin and a surprisingly durable tractor.
And while I really do love Panic for it's wackiness, there is no denying that this film is dumb as hell. If a 10 year old girl with attention deficiency had a camera and some plastic toys and she started making stop-motion with them, that's pretty much how this film would have turned out. A Town Called Panic simply revels in it's simplicity and makes no apologies for it's whimsically absurd method of storytelling.
The film is only 1 hour 15 minutes long, but hell do they do lotso crazy shit with it. And thank God it's only that short, because the film keeps you spinning in a sense of mismatched manic from start to finish that fatigue does start to set in pass the hour mark. But there was not a moment in the film where I thought, "Now that's just dumb."
And though some have complained that the stop-motion animation of Panic is incredibly lazy, I for one disagree. Sure, it is much more boldly artificial and crude compared to stop-motion gems like Fantastic Mr. Fox and Wallace & Gromit, I think the filmmakers did it intentionally to make the movements of the characters closely resemble the movements of toys in a child's hand during playtime. A Town Called Panic could easily have been one of our childhood bizzarro fantasy stories we played around with our toys.
And I gotta give props to the voice actors of the film. St├ęphane Aubier and Bruce Ellison in particular who voiced Cowboy and Indian. Now the film is in French and I have no idea what the fuck they're saying. However, Aubier and Ellison's comic timing and impeccable silly voices really didn't need a translation to have me bawling over in laughter.
A Town Called Panic is yet another rare gem, a film that will never get the recognition it deserves. But for the few people who do get the honor of watching the film, will be sitting slack-jawed at how wacky this little film is.

RATING: 8/10


So the Emmy's just happened this morning. An you have no idea how fucking pissed I am that Lost, one of the greatest television series in the last decade; that was nominated for a record 19 awards, didn't even win a single one today. Fuck you TV voting people.
Kinda bummed that Glee missed out on the Outstanding Comedy award. But justice for Jane Lynch who finally received her long overdue Emmy. So anyways, here's the full list of winners.

Outstanding Drama
Mad Men
Breaking Bad
The Good Wife
True Blood

Outstanding Comedy
Modern Family
30 Rock
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Nurse Jackie
The Office

Outstanding Actor in a Drama

Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad")
Hugh Laurie ("House M.D.")
Jon Hamm ("Mad Men")
Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights")
Matthew Fox ("Lost")
Michael C. Hall ("Dexter")

Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer")
Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights")
Glenn Close ("Damages")
January Jones ("Mad Men")
Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife")
Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit")

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory")
Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock")
Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm")
Matthew Morrison ("Glee")
Steve Carell ("The Office")
Tony Shalhoub ("Monk")

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy

Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie")
Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation")
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("The New Adventures of Old Christine")
Lea Michele ("Glee")
Tina Fey ("30 Rock")
Toni Collette ("The United States of Tara")

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad")
Andre Braugher ("Men of a Certain Age")
John Slattery ("Mad Men")
Martin Short ("Damages")
Michael Emerson ("Lost")
Terry O'Quinn ("Lost")

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama

Archie Panjabi ("The Good Wife")
Christine Baranski ("The Good Wife")
Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men")
Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men")
Rose Byrne ("Damages")
Sharon Gless ("Burn Notice")

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Eric Stonestreet ("Modern Family")
Chris Colfer ("Glee")
Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Modern Family")
Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men")
Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother")
Ty Burrell ("Modern Family")

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Jane Lynch ("Glee")
Holland Taylor ("Two and a Half Men")
Jane Krakowski ("30 Rock")
Julie Bowen ("Modern Family")
Kristen Wiig ("Saturday Night Live")
Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family")

Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien

Outstanding Reality Show Competition
Top Chef
Project Runway
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
American Idol

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality Competition Program
Jeff Probst ("Survivor")
Phil Keoghan ("The Amazing Race")
Ryan Seacrest ("American Idol")
Tom Bergeron ("Dancing with the Stars")
Heidi Klum ("Project Runway")

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Steve Shill ("Dexter) - "The Getaway"
Michelle MacLaren ("Breaking Bad") - "One Minute"
Jack Bender ("Lost") - "The End"
Leslie Linka Glatter ("Mad Men" -" Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency"
Agnieszka Holland ("Treme") - "Do You Know What It means" (Pilot)

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Matthew Weiner and Erin Levy ("Mad Men") - "Shut the Door"
Rolin Jones ("Friday Night Lights") - "The Son"
Michelle King and Robert King ("The Good Wife") (Pilot)
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse ("Lost") - "The End"
Robin Veith and Matthew Weiner ("Mad Men") - "Guy Walks Into Advertising Agency"

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Ryan Murphy ("Glee") - "Director's Cut (Pilot)"
Paris Barclay ("Glee") - "Wheels"
Jason Winer ("Modern Family") (Pilot)
Allen Coulter ("Nurse Jackie") (Pilot)
Don Scardino ("30 Rock") - "I Do Do"

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy
Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd ("Modern Family") (Pilot)
Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan ("Glee") - "Director's Cut (Pilot)"
Greg Daniels and Mindy Kaling ("The Office") - "Nicaragua"
Matt Hubbard ("30 Rock") - "Anna Howard Shaw Day"
Tina Fey and Kay Cannon ("30 Rock") - "Lee Marvin Vs. Derek Jeter"

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special
The 63rd Annual Tony Awards
The 82nd Annual Academy Awards
Bill Maher... But I'm Not Wrong
The Kennedy Center Honors
Wanda Sykes: I'ma Be Me

Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special

Bucky Gunts ("Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony""
Ron de Moraes ("In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement")
Louis J. Horvitz ("The Kennedy Center Honors")
Glenn Weiss ("The 63rd Annual Tony Awards")
Joel Gallen ("The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert""

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Julia Ormond ("Temple Grandin")
Kathy Bates ("Alice")
Catherine O'Hara ("Temple Grandin")
Brenda Vaccaro ("You Don't Know Jack")
Susan Sarandon ("You Don't Know Jack")

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
David Strathairn ("Temple Grandin")
Michael Gambon ("Emma")
Patrick Stewart ("Hamlet")
Jonathan Pryce ("Return To Cranford")
John Goodman ("You Don't Know Jack")

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special

Adam Mazer ("You Don't Know Jack")
Michelle Ashford and Robert Schenkkan ("The Pacific") - "Part Eight"
Bruce C. McKenna and Robert Schenkkan ("The Pacific") - "Part Ten"
Peter Morgan ("The Special Relationship")
Christopher Monger and William Merritt Johnson ("Temple Grandin")

Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Claire Danes ("Temple Grandin")
Maggie Smith ("Capturing Mary")
Joan Allen ("Georgia O'Keeffe")
Dame Judi Dench ("Return To Cranford")
Hope Davis ("The Special Relationship")

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Mick Jackson ("Temple Grandin")
Bob Balaban ("Georgia O'Keeffe")
David Nutter and Jeremy Podeswa ("The Pacific") - "Part Eight"
Tim Van Patten ("The Pacific") - "Part Nine"
Barry Levinson ("You Don't Know Jack")

Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Al Pacino ("You Don't Know Jack")
Jeff Bridges ("A Dog Year")
Ian McKellen ("The Prisoner")
Michael Sheen ("The Special Relationship")
Dennis Quaid ("The Special Relationship")

Outstanding Miniseries
•The Pacific
Return to Cranford (Masterpiece)

Made for Television Movie
Temple Grandin
Georgia O'Keeffe
The Special Relationship
You Don't Know Jack

Outstanding Reality Program

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Antiques Roadshow
Dirty Jobs
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
Undercover Boss

Outstanding Nonfiction Series
The National Parks: America's Best Idea
American Experience
American Masters
Deadliest Catch
Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut)

Outstanding Animated Program
Disney Prep & Landing
Alien Earths
The Ricky Gervais Show
The Simpsons
South Park

Outstanding Children's Program

Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
Hannah Montana
Wizards of Waverly Place

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Step Up 3-D: Review

Step Up 3-D! Or as someone with a brain might call it.. Step Up 2: The Streets. But this time... IN 3-D!
What do you want me to tell you about this movie? It is what it is. It's a no brainer dance movie. And I give the people who made this points for recognizing that and do not try to make Step Up 3-D be anything more or less than just a spectacular dance flick.
The plot of this movie is pretty much every run of the mill, "We need to dance/kung fu fight/sing to save some institution/orphanage/home/village from the bad guys who dance/kung fu fight/sing better than us" movie. Only this time, the director thought, "Hey! What if we took X-Men and made all the mutants dancers?"
It's about Moose who was in Step Up 3-D's precedent, moving to New York with his best friend, Tyler Gage's sister (who kinda has a thing for him) to study but ends up being adopted by a local New York filmmaker.dancer who brings him to live in this loft where he fosters a tight-knit group of dancers. But the group faces a financial crisis and are in danger of losing their loft to their arch-nemesis dance group. So they must do battle at some prestigious dance competition so they can win the money and save their loft.
Step Up 3-D is what you would call X-Men with dancers, only Adam G. Sevani is Kitty Pride, the mutant academy is some loft in New York and Prof Xavier is one of the Jonas Brothers. Everything that is non-dancing in this movie is whimsically laughable. The screenwriters clearly don't understand the basic concept of continuation in a film, resulting in Step Up 3-d to have some very very careless goofs.
For example, this dancing group is facing money issues right? "Oh, we're so poor, we're surviving on our passion alone, Oh, we're gonna lose the rent and we'll be homeless." The movie beats you over the head at how poor all these dancers are. But then in some scenes you see them dancers wearing expensive limited edition Nike shoes, they even have a fucking wall of boom box equipment ranging from Sony to Bose. And for poor kids, they dress really really really well. Like Gossip Girl well. Maybe if you get your pretty heads out your ass and sell all that useless shit, you could actually afford to meet your rent.
The writing and acting is dreadfully generic as it comes. But when the movie is showing it's dance scenes in full 3D effect, all that crap is easily forgivable. They really bring out their best in those dance sequences, all of them are memorable, innovative, contagious, dangerously electrifying and the best part is they get better and better with every dance scene.
The final dance number in this has to be seen in 3D. They come out with LED lights and start popping and locking and flipping with those lights blasting in your face. Absolutely amazing. But in comparison to the final dance scene in the second Step Up, it relied to heavily on a technicality level whereas the second Step Up was raw body movement.
And Adam G Sevani is great. He has a likable charm to him, he is a good actor and his dancing is really really sick. I like it that they made him the main character of the film instead of once again going for the generic white pretty boy and girl as the two leads, whom practically will be forgotten about long after the movie has ended. I just hope that Sevani doesn't paint himself into a corner where every movie he does do from now on is either a dance or a frat boy flick because he can do so much better than this. Indie comedy perhaps.
Step Up 3-D is enjoyable for the most part. And all the horrible acting, insurmountable gear-grinding narrative and bad writing can't derail this film from ringing it's sole message through, that the human body remains one of if not the most engaging big screen special effects there is.

RATING: 5.5/10

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Going The Distance: Review

Okay, the people who are calling this movie the next (500) Days of Summer really needs to go and shove their heads up their asses. It's like comparing masturbating and orgasm-ing.
But let me be clear that this movie is somewhat tolerable for a chick flick despite still having some major major flaws which I will get to in a bit. Aren't you just sick of seeing Justin Long and Drew Berrymore do these sappy romantic comedies? No one writes good rom coms anymore. They are compiled, cut and pasted together from bits and pieces of other romantic comedies and then are tailor made to fit their two A-list stars.
Going The Distance is basically about Erin and Garret, two lovers in New York who after a 6 week romantic whirl together has to try maintaining their relationship over long distance when Erin leaves to finish her studies in San Francisco.
Though the film does has some light moments of heart that I really liked, I couldn't help but leave the theatre feeling somewhat underwhelmed by it. First of, this movie is really long. Raking up to about 2 hours 15 minutes. And there's only so much the long distance storyline that you can talk about in that amount of time. Imagine that one single plot point which could work fine within an hour and a half being stretched to fit two hours. That's when the problem starts.
Going The Distance fails to live up to it's tagline of being a realistic adult romantic comedy. Yes, it is more realistic than most rom coms out there, but there are still things that happen in this film that is totally impossible in my opinion. Or maybe it's just me. No wonder she broke up with me. Heh. Anyway...
The comedy in this really fluctuates here and there. There are moments where Going The Distance is really funny and there are moments where it falls flat. Particularly when it comes to the two leads who are really great at having no chemistry with each other. Didn't Long and Berrymore date in real life or something? Those two just didn't seem to care much for each other.
But what was great in here were the supporting cast. Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate and Ron Livingston really made up some ground the leads lost for me. They were sort of the in-laws for Erin and Garret, each having their dysfunctional, unorthodox personality ranging from flat out toilet humor to OCD mannerisms. It's only when those guys were on screen  felt Going The Distance was the raunchy adult comedy it said it was.
But don't get me wrong, this movie as an overall romantic comedy is pretty okay. Perhaps a change in the lead roles would have made the film more affable for me. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deshcanel. Yeah, they're what this movie needs.

RATING: 5/10

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