Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr.: Round I
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is written and directed by Shane Black and stars Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, and Corbin Bernsen. The film was Black's directorial debut and was the first of two films in which Black and Downey Jr. worked together, the other being Iron Man 3.
Something that I haven't given much thought of until now is my own take on Shane Black and how he goes about writing, directing, and acting and if I'm mostly on board with what he presents to us. From what movies that I have seen that involve Shane Black in any form of directing, writing, or acting, I have found myself normally raving about what I see on screen. He had a more minor acting role in Predator, but god damn I'd be lying if I didn't say that I could praise Predator until the sun goes down. And Black's most recent directing-writing effort The Nice Guys is one of the funniest movies I've seen in years. But, sadly, I am forced to hold myself back because Black is also the same guy who directed and wrote Iron Man 3, and, oh man did I dislike that film. So the best way to put it is that Shane Black is all or nothing for me, which leaves me very curious as to how the 4th installment in the Predator series is going to turn out.
Shane Black's directorial debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was much more on the all side of the all or nothing scale as opposed to the nothing side, being presented in a similar vein as The Nice Guys though not quite as entertaining and funny as that film. It's a buddy cop comedy that also features a mystery to be solved, and we get to hear Robert Downey Jr. provide sarcastic commentary throughout as he also acts as the narrator. And if you're wondering why I am reviewing this film now as opposed to, I don't know, the week or two before The Predator is released, it's because Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang constantly reminds us that it takes place right around Christmas, and that's usually more than enough to warrant a Christmas movie label.
The plot, especially the mystery part, adds on more information and more information to the point where it barely makes sense anymore, which I've heard was sort of intentional for the sake of the film's tongue-in-cheek presentation. What you should know is this: Robert Downey Jr. is Harry Lockhart, a petty criminal whose partner is shot and killed after the two attempt to flee when a burglary goes awry. Harry evades the police and stumbles upon an audition, where he gives an unintentionally impressive performance with an outburst that the producers mistake for highly effective method acting. Harry is then sent to Los Angeles to do a screen test for the role of a detective. At a party, Harry meets private investigator Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer), hired to give Harry on-the-job experience for the detective role. Harry also comes across his childhood crush, Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan) at the party, and lies to her about being a detective. The three eventually become involved in a scheme that involves Harmony's sister and a bunch of killers.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang eventually reaches a point where you have little to no idea as to what's going on anymore, but because the film is making no effort towards taking itself seriously, it's better to see it through until the end. I'd normally categorize a messy story as a low point, but Shane Black is doing so many different things and putting together so many elements from styles and genres that the story might as well be a moot point. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is not a straight-up action thriller that happens to pack a humorous punch, nor is it a comedy in which several people die. Black presents his film as if he's fully aware that his film makes little to no sense, evident in how he has narrator Robert Downey Jr. frequently pause the film (in which it temporarily plays on a film reel) and apologize to us about how poorly presented the scene we just saw was.
- Robert Downey Jr. is wildly entertaining as Harry, who frequently makes dumb decisions and is incapable of keeping his yap shut for more than two seconds. We can't be annoyed by him, however, because Harry is also our narrator and we need him to get the scoop on what's happening. Plus, Perry and Harmony berate Harry several times for how stupid he is, my favorite being a scene in which Perry explains to Harry the definition of the word idiot.
- Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang also does an excellent job of making light of normally serious situations, which is where a lot of the comedy stems from. Situations like the discovery of a dead body and the development of a romantic relationship are never progressed without Black making something happen to lighten the tone. Harry discovers a dead body in the shower of his apartment while going to the bathroom, resulting in him urinating on the body, humorously complicating the situation. Harry also brings Harmony back to his apartment during one scene and she temporarily passes out after throwing a fit. Harry puts her on his bed and watches a spider crawl into her bra. You can take an educated guess as to what happens next. No matter what is going on in the movie, there's a one liner or something else to reinforce the fact that any and all seriousness is going to get the rug pulled out from underneath it.
- I can't quite think up any legitimate thing in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang that diminishes it in any way, outside of the convoluted plot. The comedy does sort of tailor off a bit once the mystery fully sets in and takes over, and that's why the third act of the film isn't quite up to speed with the first two acts. The third act goes one of two ways: one, you're still on board with the story and want to see it through til the end, or two, you have no clue what's going on anymore and would now prefer the company of your phone or to strike up a conversation with the person that may be sitting next to you.
It's best to watch Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang without getting too wrapped up in the plot, because it's better to see the film and appreciate it for being a satire of what it strives to be a satire of: the hardboiled literary genre and a neo-noir, buddy cop film. Nothing in the movie's entire 103 minute run time is meant to be taken seriously, so if you are willing to sacrifice understanding a complicated, mystery-based crime story for the sake of some good laughs, I have no doubt that Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang will deliver a little extra Christmas joy to your life.
1988 Hollywood: And the action genre said to Bruce Willis, "Welcome to the party, pal"
Die Hard is directed by John McTiernan and stars Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, Bonnie Bedelia, and Reginald VelJohnson. The film is based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp and was the feature film debut for Alan Rickman.
Personally speaking, I refuse to believe that the action genre, as we now understand it in American cinema, existed before the 1980's, the decade where some of the most famous action stars of our time rose to prominence: Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Don Johnson. Sure, car chases, guns a'blazing, and fist fights all existed and had memorable moments in select films that some would argue fit into the action genre before 1980, but when we're talking about an action film: a movie that aims to provide exciting thrills with intense gunfire, fiery explosions, and blood and gore, I say to you, no, I do not believe that such a film exists in American cinema prior to the year 1980. When the 1980's finally did roll around, actions films, particularly great ones, were coming out almost every year. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mad Max 2, The Terminator, Predator, RoboCop, way too many to list.
And as acclaimed and masterfully crafted as several of the 80's action films like those just mentioned above were, it seems that none of them could quite reach the lofty heights of considerably the best action film of the 80's: Die Hard, a film whose inspiration and impact has molded it into one of the greatest and one of the most important action films of all time. Oh yeah, and you can throw in a film that has created an ever-growing pile of imitators, rip-offs, derivative works, whatever similar choice of words you'd want to use. Calling a film great is certainly a worthy complement. I want to think that every group of filmmakers working on a movie wish to make the absolute best of their project. Thing is though, great movies come out all the time, so I use the term great movie sort of loosely. But to call a movie important? Now that, that is an incredibly rare honor, and important is a word that I would only apply to a very select group of films.
To call Die Hard an important film requires a thorough understanding of the action genre and what its expectations are for us as viewers. To start with, the best actions films have a premise that will get your blood pumping and raise your excitement level to a fever pitch. Then, there's the matter of having cohesive and thrilling action sequences that aren't riddled by technical setbacks such as rapid-fire editing or earthquake-inducing shaky cam. But above all else, the best action films present to us a hero who isn't an invincible Superman who can take down all of the bad guys without blinking an eye. The hero is a flawed and vulnerable person, and when he/she finds themselves in a dangerous situation, we fear for their survival.
An exciting premise, top-notch thrills, and a vulnerable hero are all on display in Die Hard, and this leads me to the plot, which has quite a lot going on. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is an off-duty NYPD Detective who arrives in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to meet with his wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). John is hoping to reconcile with Holly, as their marriage has been struggling since Holly moved to Los Angeles. Holly works at the Nakatomi Plaza, a massive skyscraper building being run by executive Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta). Takagi has recently completed an important business deal and is holding a Christmas Eve party on the building's 30th floor. But Christmas Eve at the Nakatomi Plaza is also the site of a heist for a group of German terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). The terrorists seize the Plaza and take everyone inside as hostages, except McClane, who manages to evade capture during the takeover. McClane is able to alert the LAPD of what's going on, but with everyone else in the building being taken hostage, he must rely on his own wits to combat the terrorists.
The one unfortunate thing about Die Hard is how it's a victim of its own success. When you have a film that has such an incredible legacy behind it, there are of course going to be other, creativity-deprived people who look at Die Hard and say, "Hey, that was awesome. I wanna do that too!" This has led to the birth of the "Die Hard on a ____" phrase, because Die Hard's premise, a lone hero fighting against a group of like-minded enemies within an isolated setting, has been exhausted and exhausted to no end in the years since the film's release. But this begs the question: Why is Die Hard's premise so susceptible to imitation time and time again? What is it about a lone hero fighting a group of enemies within one location that has led to so many films that pretend like they aren't Die Hard even though it's painfully obvious that the director and/or screenwriters saw Die Hard at some point in time?
- My take on what makes Die Hard's premise so enthralling is that it's the ultimate example of a hero defying incredible odds to come out on top. Again, nothing enhances an action film like a vulnerable hero being placed in a situation where we seriously question if they can actually succeed. John McClane is by himself facing off against 12 fully-armed terrorists who aren't stupid in the slightest. His only form of support comes in the form of radio contact with Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), a police officer who gets sent to investigate the Nakatomi Plaza after McClane calls 911. McClane throws a body onto Powell's car, leading to Powell calling in the LAPD for backup. McClane makes it obvious through his many radio conversations just how much of a stuck-up a-hole that he actually is, admitting to Powell later on that his jerk-ish attitude played a huge role in the unraveling of his marriage with Holly. One of the most famous scenes is McClane dragging himself into a bathroom after his feet get sliced up from walking on broken glass. By this point, McClane is completely worn out, and now, he can barely walk. McClane now has no choice but to dig deep inside himself and somehow pull through.
All of this and more is because of a carefully constructed script by writers Steve E. de Souza and first-timer Jeb Stuart. Anything that might seem like a negligent detail early on in the film, such as Holly putting face down a family photo of her and McClane, becomes a crucial plot element later on. The LAPD may be mere bystanders to all of the action going on inside the Plaza, but they try to take matters into their own hands, resulting in events that also propel the plot forward. The LAPD isn't there just because it makes sense for them to be there. They, along with McClane, affect the actions and decisions of Hans Gruber and the other terrorists. The plot is always moving, even if McClane seems to have stepped aside to take a breather.
- No one in 1988 could imagine that Bruce Willis, the guy who was only known as a comedic TV actor from the show Moonlighting, would go on to be one of cinema's most notable action stars. 20th Century Fox reluctantly gave Willis the role of John McClane after Frank Sinatra (yes, Frank Sinatra, because Fox was contractually obligated to give it to him) turned it down and Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to shoot the film as a sequel to Commando. Willis puts his all into the role, and complementing his terrific performance is Alan Rickman, who gives one of his best performances as Hans Gruber. Several of Rickman's reactions during the film are genuine (for the sake of spoilers, I won't share them here), and a meeting between McClane and Gruber during the film was unrehearsed, creating a better feeling of spontaneity between Willis and Rickman. The two work great together, and are easily one of the best hero-villain duos ever.
- I guess if I had to gripe about something in Die Hard, it's that some of the action/chase sequences between McClane and the terrorists are indecipherable, more from a mise en scene perspective. As McClane runs through the inner parts of the Nakatomi Plaza, it is not always clear as to where he is and what's around him. But this is being incredibly picky and these moments are far and few between that it doesn't diminish anything in the film in the slightest.
So to conclude, I want to bring closure to Die Hard being an important film, not just a great one. We can call Die Hard great by looking at its riveting action sequences, prodigious performances, and smart writing. But to call Die Hard important is to understand its ongoing impact on the action genre. The action genre, before 1988, never saw a film that so expertly portrayed a vulnerable hero who was stuck in one place and overcome seemingly impossible odds to prevail over his/her enemies. True, Indiana Jones was a vulnerable hero who had to overcome odds to achieve his goals, and Sarah Connor had to find a way to succeed against a seemingly unbeatable cyborg. But with John McClane, there were no gimmicks, recognizable outfits, or stuffy machismo. Die Hard is about one man, as much of a troubled human as you and I, who had no one but himself to save the day, and he had to do it without super powers or bulking biceps. It's the ultimate insight into how powerful the action genre can be, as a thrilling good-time, but more importantly, as a mirror into the struggles and resilience that drive people to go out and thrive. That is why Die Hard is important, and considerably the greatest action film to ever grace the silver screen.
Recommend? Absolutely. This is essential viewing for all film lovers.
I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite!
Elf is directed by Jon Favreau and stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Daniel Tay, Ed Asner, and Bob Newhart.
On the surface, Elf looks like nothing more than just another feel-good Christmas movie whose story depends on the resolution of one person's cynicism and general disgust towards the Christmas season and everything jolly that goes with it. But it seems every year, Elf reaffirms how it does indeed stand out from the crowd and continues to establish itself as a must-see annual Christmas viewing. That largely has to deal with the fact that the center spotlight in Elf is not on that Ebenezer Scrooge/Grinch character that hates everyone else. No, for the spotlight is on that happy-go-lucky, "I love everything about Christmas" person who simply wants to cheer everyone up and make it a wonderful Christmas for people far and wide.
That person being Buddy the Elf (Ferrell). On Christmas Eve one year, the baby Buddy crawls into Santa's toy sack and is taken back to the North Pole. The elves discover the baby, giving him the name Buddy because he is wearing "Little Buddy Diapers", and Papa Elf (Newhart) agrees to adopt the baby himself. Buddy grows up believing that he is an elf, but his human size inhibits his ability to keep up with the other elves, and he is eventually demoted to toy testing. Buddy overhears that he is a human, and Papa Elf explains to Buddy that he was born to Walter Hobbs (Caan) and Susan Wells, being given up for adoption. Susan passed away and Walter now works as a children's book publisher at the Empire State Building in New York. Walter is unaware that Buddy exists and, to Buddy's horror, is on the naughty list because of his selfish behavior. Santa tells Buddy that he may be able to save Walter from the naughty list, and so Buddy sets out for New York to meet his father and fill him with the Christmas spirit.
- Buddy's overly-happy attitude makes him susceptible to being annoying, but Ferrell dodges annoyance gracefully with a performance that is as charming as it is humorous. Buddy is incredibly naive wandering around New York and talking to random strangers, having no clue how things work in the human world and being completely oblivious to the fact that many people, even around Christmas time, are unhappy cynics. Buddy is like a small boy trapped inside an adult man's body, and he shamelessly performs childish, playful acts such as running around in circles with a revolving door. Ferrell puts necessary, child-like enthusiasm into the role of Buddy, and he does so as well, if not better, than any other actor who could've been a possible fit for the role.
- The humor in Elf is a bit of a mixed bag. Buddy provides a countless number of funny, quotable lines, but there are also a series of moments that don't quite hit the funny bone. Buddy drinks an entire 1.25 liter thing of Coke in one chug, following it up with a burp that lasts about 10-15 seconds. Burping is like farting out of your mouth, and farting is just oh so hilarious, so...everybody laughs! I'd say the humor is about 70-80 percent good and 20-30 percent iffy. All of the humor in the film stems from the actions and decisions of Buddy and how those actions and decisions are perceived by those around him.
Will Ferrell has had some atrocious misfires over the course of his career, but I think he more than makes up for his comedic shortcomings with films like Elf, with Buddy being in a fierce competition with Ron Burgundy, Lord Business, and Ricky Bobby for the title of Will Ferrell's most definitive and acclaimed role. For Christmas movies that put a big smile on your face through sharp humor and irresistible charm, you can't do much better than Elf. People of all ages will love it, and don't be surprised if you find yourself using at least one of Buddy's many memorable lines around the holidays.
If a lot of people loved each other, the world would be a better place to live.
The Disaster Artist is directed by and stars James Franco and also stars Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, and Jacki Weaver. It is based on the book of the same name written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, chronicling the makings of the 2003 cult film The Room, which Sestero starred in and is considered by many to be one of the worst films ever made.
If you've seen the misguided masterpiece that is The Room, you will most likely agree that the movie is equal parts awful, hilarious, and mysterious. In my review for The Room, I mentioned that there was never a movie in the history of history like The Room, and there will never ever be another movie like The Room ever again, because it so bad, but so bad in such a unique way that it cannot possibly be duplicated. A lot of the intrigue for The Room comes from the mysterious figure that is Tommy Wiseau, a man whose age, source(s) of income, and place of birth are still unknown. Wiseau has been secretive about specific details regarding his life, and I assume he wants it to stay that way. If we knew all of Tommy Wiseau's deepest, darkest secrets, would The Room be as appreciated as it currently is? The mystery component is largely why we keep coming back to it,, and it's a mystery that we all as The Room fans agree is better left unsolved.
Other cast and crews members from The Room have spoken over the years of their experiences with making the film, but none may be more prominent than Greg Sestero in his book, The Disaster Artist. In the book, Sestero writes about his struggles as a young actor and how he came to meet Tommy Wiseau. When Sestero began to accumulate more acting credits, Wiseau became jealous and planned to earn similar credits. After Sestero and Wiseau went to see The Talented Mr. Ripley, Wiseau was inspired to write the screenplay for his own film. And that film was The Room.
The film adaptation of The Disaster Artist begins with Greg Sestero meeting Tommy Wiseau in an acting class. Sestero is puzzled by Wiseau's over-the-top acting style and eccentric behavior, but is also fascinated by his boldness and enthusiasm for acting and life in general. The two become good friends and eventually move to Los Angeles together. Sestero soon finds success and gets together with a girl he meets at a bar named Amber (Alison Brie). Wiseau, however, faces constant rejection by agencies, directors, and insiders. Sestero's auditions eventually start to wane, and he suggests to Wiseau that he make his own movie. Wiseau does just this: spending the next three years writing the screenplay for The Room. Sestero reads the screenplay, and despite realizing just how incoherent that it is, Sestero insists that it is great and that Wiseau should proceed with making the film.
The Disaster Artist, more than anything, is a celebration of one man's ultimate failure, and how that failure turned him into a legend. No one who has ever watched The Room can possibly acknowledge it as a quality film given its horrendous acting, bizarre dialogue, and various technical blunders. But what Tommy Wiseau has provided to the world is a film that is a source of endless laughter and joy, and that is something that many other films simply can't match.
- The Disaster Artist is very funny, finding a lot of humor in the awkwardness of Wiseau and Sestero's friendship as well as the mishaps going on behind the scenes during the making of The Room. The movie will be a lot funnier if you see The Room beforehand, but there are still plenty of moments to laugh at even if you haven't seen The Room.
- James Franco does a near brilliant job of portraying Wiseau, nailing his awkward laugh and his mysterious accent while also looking convincing in a wig resembling Wiseau's long, flowing black hair. Wiseau himself praised the casting decisions. No, really, what else needs to be said?
- The Disaster Artist is a little too invested in the making of The Room and not so much the character, Tommy Wiseau. Of course the film can't give us all the answers because many of Wiseau's life details are still unknown. But what The Disaster Artist doesn't do enough of is flesh out how mysterious Tommy Wiseau is and how that is interpreted by Greg Sestero. The movie more so displays Wiseau as a talent-less weirdo who grows easily jealous and angry when he isn't the center of attention.
If anything else, The Disaster Artist will bring the massive cult following and history of The Room more into the public eye, while teaching the world that sometimes the biggest failures can equal our greatest successes. With razor-sharp humor and a marvelous performance by James Franco, The Disaster Artist shows how one man's poignant work of film turned into his ultimate triumph.
Recommend? Yes, though I would recommend watching The Room first.
Jankowski's Film Watch 2017: Saving your Christmas from the Satanic teachings of Kirk Cameron
Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas, also known as just Saving Christmas, is directed and written by Darren Doane and stars Kirk Cameron with Doane himself also starring.
I am a firm believer that every single Christmas movie ever made, good and bad, has the best of intentions at heart. Yes, I am including all of those schmaltzy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies that are all the exact same movie. If you ask someone what the meaning of Christmas is, the response you will get depends heavily on who you're talking to. A faithful Christian who knows the Bible and Church history inside out will offer a completely different answer than a raging atheist. But whether you're a devout Christian, a passionate atheist, or someone whose stuck in some agnostic space in the middle, I think we can all agree on the fact that Christmas is a season that strives to bring joy and love and all of that heartfelt stuff to friends and families everywhere, evident in every Christmas movie ever. There is one movie, however, that has the audacity to declare itself a Christmas movie despite the fact that everything it tells you about Christmas is nonsensical and flat out wrong, all the while accomplishing the seemingly impossible goal of upsetting both devout Christians and hardcore atheists alike. That movie I am of course referring to is none other than Kirk Cameron's callous Christmas clunker, Saving Christmas.
How bad is Saving Christmas? The critical consensus has it listed as one of the worst films ever made, so I don't know what more you would possibly need to get a good picture of just how bad it is. It's not at all so-bad-it's good, I assure you. It's a deranged and twisted little thing that will have you never wanting to see Kirk Cameron in anything resembling a movie ever again. Cameron may not have directed the film nor written the screenplay, but he still has his hands and face all over the film, as if he intended it be his magnum opus because he's just that passionate about Christmas and no other film that he would get involved in during his lifetime would come close to his ultimate take on the Christmas season. Who cares about winning Oscars and potentially getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when you can share with audiences your historically and factually deprived beliefs on things like Christmas trees, presents, and hot chocolate? Just a quick side note, Cameron loves talking about hot chocolate, mentioning it whenever he gets the chance. Now, people have the right to believe whatever they want. That's just conventional wisdom. Kirk Cameron is allowed to believe whatever he wants, and if he has some unique takes on the many aspects of Christmas, more power to him. But where everything falls apart for Cameron is how he passes off his beliefs as if they are the be-all end-all, having it firm in his head that all of his answers and beliefs are right, and everything you believe is wrong. His pompous attitude shines through like overly luminous Christmas lights and screams at you, "You're all wrong. I have all the answers. What I believe about Christmas is how it actually is." Since Cameron is an active Evangelical Christian, his thoughts and explanations are geared towards deterring atheists from diminishing the religious connections of Christmas. But like I said earlier, this is a film that will upset both atheists and Christians, because Cameron's presentation is so backwards and convoluted that this film will offend Christians about as much as it will offend atheists.
In terms of plot, there's really not much of one. More so, Saving Christmas is an hour-long sermon by Cameron explaining to us the biblical roots of the main things associated with Christmas: trees, Santa Claus, the manger with baby Jesus. The only part of the film that resembles anything close to a plot is this: Kirk Cameron plays a fictional version of himself, and he's attending a Christmas party at his sister's (Bridgette Ridenour) house. Kirk notices that his sister's husband, Christian (the director Darren Doane), is sitting by himself in a corner, not invested at all in the Christmas celebration. Kirk later finds Christian sitting in his car outside, where Christian expresses his frustration over how he thinks the Christmas holiday has become too commercialized and too tied to consumerism. Kirk tells Christian he's wrong and proceeds to explain why he's wrong.
The film opens with a framing sequence with Kirk sitting in a chair beside a fireplace, addressing the audience about how much he loves the Christmas season. Kirk speaks to us while drinking hot chocolate from a mug, but you don't need close inspection to see that Kirk is drinking out of an obviously empty mug. In my notes for this scene, I have written down, "We're off to a great start." Why do I mention this blunder? Because it perfectly sets the tone for what is yet to come.
- The only good coming from Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas is its merciful 79 minute run time, with the final ten minutes being dedicated to bloopers/outtakes and the end credits, so it's actually more like 69 minutes. Though if you can somehow make it through the first 20 minutes without being offended in some way, you deserve a medal. Is that all for high points? Yes, that is all.
- Kirk Cameron should be banished from any and all Christmas activities anywhere for the rest of his life. He does not deserve one iota of credit or praise for thinking outside the box and being imaginative in his beliefs toward Christmas, because instead of simply suggesting to us one way of thinking about Christmas trees, Santa Claus, etc., he is dead set on convincing us why Christian (and apparently us) is wrong in thinking that Christmas is about materialism and that it no longer is appreciated for its religious roots. Cameron doesn't provide any specific historical evidence, factual information, or biblical quotes to back up his claims, therefore leaving us baffled at how Cameron could possibly come up with what he preaches to us. For example, Cameron goes on telling us about how Christmas trees are actually representative of Jesus dying on the cross, because Jesus is supposed to be the last Adam, and since Adam took the fruit off of the tree in the Garden of Eden, Jesus going up on the cross is meant to be Adam putting the fruit back on the tree. I might be missing a few minor details, but that's the gist of what he's trying to say about Christmas trees in the film. All it sounds like to me is Kirk Cameorn taking one of the first stories in the Book of Genesis in the Bible and basically blowing it out of proportion. What's even more stunning is how Christian is easily won over by Cameron's explanations, not objecting or questioning anything he is told.
But the real nail in the coffin is how Cameron ends his argument by contradicting what he tells us in the beginning: that atheists have taken the holiday away and that fundamental Christians have politicized the holiday. He goes on for an hour about all of the religious and biblical aspects of Christmas, but concludes the film with a speech about how we should actually go all out with feasting, because Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the eternal God who took on a material body. Therefore, Christmas is filled with material things. He spends an hour telling us how we need to "put the Christ back into Christmas", but ends the film by acknowledging that materialism during Christmas is actually a good thing, because God took on a material body. Makes sense, right? No. No it doesn't.
- Saving Christmas also suffers big time from a lot of its technical aspects, as well as wooden acting and awkward dialogue. The lighting in many scenes is uninspired, looking as if they were shot in Kirk Cameron's backyard without proper lighting equipment or set construction. Christian has a complete word vomit of a line in which he tells his wife that he organized a hip-hop dance routine to express all of the love and joy of Christmas (when he organized such a routine is never explained). Something that really bugged me was how there were awkward pauses in between lines, as if everyone kept forgetting their lines but remembering them a few seconds into the take. Editing, camera angles, and everything else all look slapped together at the last minute by a crew who clearly didn't give a crap.
A week after the film's initial release, Cameron went on his Facebook page and responded to the horrid reviews by telling everyone to go on Rotten Tomatoes and tell critics that audiences decide what movies they want to watch and show to their families. But this was Kirk Cameron signing the movie's death warrant, as Internet users instead went on Rotten Tomatoes to berate the film even further. But being the smug S.O.B. that he is, Kirk Cameron came out later and blamed the film's hot mess of a reception on haters and atheists who purposefully went out to condemn the film.
I hated this movie, but I didn't hate it in a fiery, intense way that I have hated only a few select films that I have seen thus far in my lifetime. That's because as offensive and amateurish as the film is as a whole, I found it to be dreadfully boring more than anything. Saving Christmas doesn't feel like a movie, because it's almost nothing but Kirk Cameron just talking to you about Christmas for an hour. There's nothing to be invested in. There's nothing to take away from, except a newfound hatred towards Kirk Cameron after you sit through a wretched 79 minutes. My goal here in writing this review is to save your wonderful Christmas season from the devil's work that is Kirk Cameron talking about the "true, biblical meaning" of Christmas. It is a startlingly inept film from start to finish, and I pray to God that you will never have to waste a precious hour of your holiday season watching it like I unfortunately did. The only person who needs saving here is Kirk Cameron. I hope Santa gives him much worse than a lump of coal in his stocking every year for the rest of his life.
Recommend? Absolutely not. Whether you're a Christian or an atheist, don't even attempt to watch this movie.
A My Fair Lady film adaptation: Wouldn't It Be Loverly?
My Fair Lady is a 1964 musical film directed by George Cukor and stars Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Gladys Cooper, and Wilfrid Hyde-White. It is based on the stage musical of the same name by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, which was based on the 1913 stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.
There aren't many other musicals that you'll find outside of My Fair Lady when it comes to delivering all of the necessary facets for an effective and memorable musical: top-notch acting, catchy songs that you'll want to sing along to, a story that's decent at worst, and notable energy. There's also a colorful production design, so we might as well throw that into the pot as well. My Fair Lady had a budget of around $17 million, and it was the most expensive movie to be made in the United States up to that point in time. The film's success goes to show that sometimes, big bucks does equal big success. On top of all that, it was released during the most gargantuan decade for American movie musicals, with Mary Poppins being released that same year and of course, the next year's Best Picture winner, The Sound of Music. Then there was Oliver!, West Side Story, and so on and so on.
Taking place in early 20th Century London, My Fair Lady focuses on the efforts of phonetics scholar Henry Higgins (Harrison) and his efforts in converting the young flower seller Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn) into a presentable duchess at an embassy ball. Doolittle has a thick Cockney accent and cannot speak in a normal, English-cultured manner, which leads to Higgins selecting her. Higgins makes a bet with an acquaintance, Colonel Hugh Pickering (Hyde-White), that he can successfully convert Eliza, despite his misogynistic personality.
My Fair Lady had enjoyed success on Broadway during the 50's, with Julie Andrews playing Eliza Doolittle and working alongside Rex Harrison, so a film adaptation seemed like the natural thing to do. But when Audrey Hepburn was casted as Eliza and not Andrews, you can easily guess that Harrison and Julie Andrews were rather upset. Harrison objected to Hepburn's casting because he didn't think that she fit the character, and even Audrey Hepburn herself believed that Andrews should have played Eliza. But producer Jack L. Warner felt that Andrews wasn't known enough as an actress, and that even had Hepburn turned down the role, he would not have casted Andrews. This decision to cast Hepburn and not even consider Andrews was a bizarre one, because it boils down to giving Hepburn the role solely because of the star power that Hepburn enjoyed over Andrews at the time. Add on the fact that Hepburn's singing was deemed inadequate, leading to her singing being dubbed by Marni Nixon; what in the world was going through Jack L. Warner's head? At the end of the day however, Hepburn and Andrews held no grudges against one another, and Rex Harrison later said that Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady was his favorite leading lady.
- Colors! Such lovely colors! My Fair Lady's production design features elaborate costumes and sets that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are evocative. Strangely enough, black and white are the most dominant colors, most evident in a scene where Higgins takes Eliza to a Racecourse:
The gentleman on the left next to Eliza is not Higgins, FYI.
Clothing, walls, and other scenery are decked out in vivid black and white. My take on the use of black and white it the colors' symbolic representation of the black and white relationship between Higgins and Eliza. Higgins is a rich, upper-class Englishmen, while Eliza is a poor, lower-class working girl hampered by her Cockney accent. Two total opposites, black and white, mesh together.
- The songs are delightful. Er, "loverly" as the movie might describe them. The musical numbers range from being romantic, to comical, all the way to complete nonsense. There are some minor changes from the show, but they're only small changes in regarding to ordering and lyrics and not worth going into excessive detail about. I do want to mention that I have come across Youtube clips of Audrey Hepburn's original singing voice, and I must say I am stunned to think that her voice was considered inadequate. Here is a clip of Hepburn's original singing voice during 'Wouldn't it be Loverly?'
Hepburn sounds much more in character than Nixon's dub. Did Jack L. Warner really think the film would have been a flop had they just kept Hepburn's original singing voice?
- The film loses some steam in its second act, not following up properly on its romantic subplots and leaving a little too much up for interpretation, particularly in how it ends. I should credit this as the film avoiding becoming totally predictable, but, without spoiling anything specific, there's a lot left to be desired.
Who'd a thunk it that My Fair Lady would be released the same year as Mary Poppins, another all-time musical classic? In the years since, I think Mary Poppins has overshadowed My Fair Lady, mainly in how Mary Poppins has enjoyed the luxury of a Disney connection, an all-time great performance by Julie Andrews (not to downplay Audrey Hepburn's performance in any way), and an upcoming sequel. And as much as the world loves Mary Poppins (and the world very much should love Mary Poppins), we should never forget about the glorious wonders of My Fair Lady, one of many defining examples of how the 1960's was the ultimate decade for American musicals. The acting is superb, it is nearly impossible to not want to sing along with the songs, and, last but certainly not least, those colors! It all adds up to a musical that is among the finest of its kind, not only during its time, but of all time.
This is not going to go the way you think.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, is written and directed by Rian Johnson and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, and Gwendoline Christie who all reprise their roles from The Force Awakens. Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro also star. The film is dedicated in memory of Carrie Fisher who died in December 2016, making this her final performance.
When The Force Awakens hit theaters back in December 2015, it broke almost every box office record imaginable and won the adoration of people, Star Wars fan or not, worldwide. It gave longtime fans nostalgic satisfaction from seeing old characters back in action, while also infusing the franchise with new life blood by bringing in a bunch of fresh faces. And when all was said and done in Episode VII, the franchise was left at a series of crossroads, having the opportunity to go a multitude of ways, which naturally lent itself to two years of questioning, theorizing, and debating about what direction the story should go next. This left The Last Jedi with a lot of weight on its shoulders, even though it was not going to bring closure to the story of the new trilogy, because we still have an Episode IX to prepare for.
In August 2014, Rian Johnson confirmed that he would be directing Episode VIII, commenting on how much he loved watching the older Star Wars movies and playing with all of the toys when he was a little kid. He had his story group watch older films like The Bridge on the River Kwai and Twelve O'Clock High in order to find inspiration for developing good ideas, which speaks to me of Johnson tapping into Star Wars' inspiration from films of all different categories and genres. From what I know about Johnson's previous films, it's that he never lets storytelling take a backseat to everything else that's going on, with The Last Jedi being no exception. If you had to ask me, I would tell you that the story is the most crucial part of The Last Jedi, which I'll get to in good time.
One thing about Star Wars that people don't pay too much attention to is how the saga has little to no hesitation towards killing off major characters, with at least one major character dying in each episode except, surprisingly, The Empire Strikes Back. Now, mind you, Star Wars doesn't always ax off its characters in an unexpected and heartbreaking Game of Thrones fashion, but the point being is that one oughtn't go into each Star Wars episode expecting everyone to survive or at least get through the entire episode unscathed. As the franchise focuses on the adventures of characters "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away", some characters must go as new ones are brought in. This is where I ask, how many human characters have appeared in all eight episodes of Star Wars? I do believe the answer is zero. For the sake of telling a meaningful story, certain characters are going to die, whether you love them or not.
As for the plot, specifics I think are best left untold, but here's what I'll share with you: The First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke, are in pursuit of the main base of the Resistance fighters, who are led by General Leia Organa. Meanwhile, Rey, having found Luke Skywalker on an island on the planet Ahch-To at the end of The Force Awakens, tries to convince him to come and help the Resistance in their fight against the First Order. Rey also desires to learn more about the ways of The Force, but Luke, conflicted over certain events in the past, is unwilling to teach her.
I'm aware that I have yet to talk about if I actually thought The Last Jedi was good or not. It is good, really good. I'd say it's the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. Whereas The Force Awakens found a lot of its success in declaring to the world the epic return of the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi triumphs in taking this new trilogy in some unexpected directions while continuing to honor the rich history of the Star Wars universe, taking on the seemingly impossible task of expanding upon what has been presented to us in the first seven episodes while also leaving us hungry for more.
- From Daisy Ridley to Adam Driver to John Boyega, every significant actor here is once again great. However, it's Mark Hamill who steals the show. This is easily his best portrayal of Luke Skywalker, showing us how Luke has now become a troubled Jedi Master, haunted by mistakes and decisions he made before. This is a major departure from the more upbeat and optimistic Luke Skywalker seen in the original trilogy, as he now represents more of a cynical curmudgeon. He works splendidly alongside Daisy Ridley, with the two displaying an old teacher, young pupil relationship in line with the likes of The Karate Kid.
- The Last Jedi has a much darker tone than The Force Awakens, so it's sort of surprising to acknowledge how funny it actually is. Rey and Luke have several humorous exchanges in the midst of their conversations, Finn and Poe are funny, and even Leia chips in some funny lines. And the best part is, not for a single second does the film come off as tongue in cheek and never does it sacrifice the pacing or momentum for the sake of a joke.
- So the acting, action, and humor are all great, but where The Last Jedi truly succeeds is in its gutsy storytelling. Rian Johnson shows a willingness to avert audience expectations and give the story the twists and turns it needs to not only surprise audiences, but bring even more intrigue to the overall narrative. He doesn't shock us for the sole purpose of shocking us; he shocks us to add a new wrinkle to the way that Star Wars is presented. If we didn't learn enough from The Empire Strikes Back, then The Last Jedi will hammer it home that Star Wars is a franchise that transcends beyond a simple battle of good vs. evil by showing us good-nature characters who wrestle with their darker instincts as well as villains who still have a modicum of empathy buried inside. After all, aren't some of the best heroes and villains the ones who struggle with an inner turmoil that makes them seem more human?
- The Force Awakens struggled with being derivative of the original trilogy, and the same is sort of true with The Last Jedi, with certain scenes and moments looking imitative of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The fact that this problem has sprung up again leads me to believe that an underlying goal of everyone working on the sequel trilogy is to recapture a lot of the joy and success of the original trilogy, even though several plot elements can be pointed at by hardcore Star Wars buffs and say, "Hey, that looks like that came right out of [insert original trilogy movie here]!" So is it safe to assume that Episode IX is going to be another Return of the Jedi?
The other thing about The Last Jedi that pleases me is that it removes freakin' Attack of the Clones as the longest Star Wars film when looking strictly at running time. 152 minutes certainly sounds like a long time, but The Last Jedi features enough excitement and narrative heft to make for a fast-paced 152 minutes. It's a well-rounded film that leaves Episode IX with even more weight on its shoulders, because now comes the task of bringing this new chapter in the Star Wars saga to a fitting conclusion. For now though, we can all be happy that Rian Johnson has delivered what is the best Star Wars episode since The Empire Strikes Back, featuring great performances, especially from Mark Hamill, more eye-popping action, and a narrative direction that will inevitably bring more theories and excitement for what will happen the next time around.
Recommend? Yes. It's best enjoyed after seeing the original trilogy and The Force Awakens.
Blast this Christmas movie. It's joyful and triumphant.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas is directed by Ron Howard and stars Jim Carrey, Jeff Bridges, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, and Molly Shannon. The film is based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name and it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup.
The first of Dr. Seuss' infamous children's books to be adapted into a feature length film was How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which had been honored for decades with a 1966 animated TV special that has now become something of an essential holiday viewing every year. And while you may or may not enjoy the Jim Carrey version, you have to respect it nowadays for becoming the source of various memes and quotes that pretty much sum up what it's like for people experiencing the hardships of adulthood. Here's an example of what I mean:
I watched the film a couple times at a relatively young age, although I can't remember for the life of me if I liked it or not. I wasn't traumatized by Jim Carrey as the Grinch, so I guess that counts towards me being fond of it at least. Watching the film as an adult was a whole different experience; I caught on several funny things that a child watching the movie is bound to miss, and I developed a special appreciation for Jim Carrey's performance as the Grinch. There were brief, and only brief, moments that I almost convinced myself that this movie might be more suitable for adults, because the adult references aren't subtle in the slightest and the Grinch speaks directly of advanced topics like commercialism that no small child would give a damn about. What's crystal clear is crystal clear though: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a family-oriented Christmas laugh-fest that defines its efforts in targeting children through Jim Carrey acting as goofy as can be and the movie dishing out slapstick humor and cartoonish sound effects that look and sound like something straight out of a Scooby-Doo episode.
If you've read the book and/or seen the TV animated special, you know the story. The Grinch is a mean, green, cave-dwelling creature who lives on the steep, snowy Mount Crumpit with his loyal dog Max just outside the town of Whoville. In this version, the town of Whoville and Mount Crumpit are located inside a snowflake. The Whos are happy and warmhearted people who love and adore Christmas more than any other holiday. The Grinch despises Christmas and the Whos, and because of how he pulls dangerous practical jokes on them, the Whos avoid the Grinch at all costs. However, there is one Who that takes an interest in the Grinch: six-year old Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen), doing so after the Grinch reluctantly saves her life at the town's post office. Cindy Lou visits the Grinch at his home and tries to convince him to come to the town's annual Christmas event, Whobilation. The Grinch does decide to go to the Whobilation party, but ends up ruining it. This doesn't dampen the Who's Christmas spirit, however, angering the Grinch. He devises a plan to steal all of the Who's Christmas presents and decorations, hoping the scheme will break the Who's Christmas spirit once and for all.
I laughed throughout this movie many more times than I likely ever did while watching it at a young age, which again brings me back to the whole convincing myself that the movie is perhaps more enjoyable as an adult. The Grinch thinks life sucks, staying in seclusion and expressing his hatred for the Whos that happen to be more fortunate than him. A lot of us have those days where we hate the world and everyone in it, and some people will do whatever it takes to drag the world down to their level of misery. All of the feelings of anger, disgust, and envy that we might have when life isn't going too well are embodied by the Grinch, but because the movie still needs to give children an incentive to watch it, the Grinch comes at us with a tidal wave of kid-friendly, Jim Carrey histrionics.
- This is Jim Carrey's movie. He is required to carry it from start to finish no matter how many bumps and bruises are suffered along the way. Despite how over-the-top Carrey may be, he shows his total commitment to the role and shines like Clark Griswold's Christmas light-covered house. When the Grinch needs to be silly, Carrey sells it better than probably anyone else who might've been considered for the role. And when the Grinch needs to be serious, primarily when he realizes that Christmas means more than just gifts and decorations, Carrey is able to make it convincing, which I credit to his most highly underrated acting talent: being dramatic. To be fair, this movie is Jim Carrey being about 95 percent goofy and 5 percent dramatic, but he is one of the few actors I can think of whose dramatic sequences are never hindered by his comedic sequences.
- If you aren't a fan of Jim Carrey and/or can't tolerate his energetic slapstick comedy style, you certainly will not like this movie. I have to say, though, there are far too many quotable lines throughout, and it is largely why the movie is funny. The Grinch has a bottomless supply of memorable lines such as the ones in the meme I posted above, although (here I go again) I think adults would find a lot of the lines funnier than children. The Grinch sneaks into the town post office early on, and we see him throwing mail into various mail boxes, stating that the mail contains things like jury duty, blackmail, and even an eviction notice. Do children know about the pains of jury duty, and can they sympathize with someone who gets an eviction notice?
- No matter what Jim Carrey does, he is unable to salvage the fact that the plot feels empty and unfulfilling. We learn about why the Grinch hates Christmas, but there's not enough time spent on why he prefers to be as grotesque as possible and what exactly makes him so mean-spirited inside. Cindy Lou Who is little more than a plot device, and I gotta say, her parents are probably the worst parents in Whoville, letting her constantly sneak around and disappear for long stretches of time, showing little to no concern when she gets back home. And when the Grinch is stealing everything from her home, Cindy Lou wakes up and asks why the Grinch is taking everything (she thinks he is Santa Claus because the Grinch is wearing a basic Santa outfit). The Grinch doesn't conceal his green, hairy face at all, and I would bet money that any other child with a functioning brain could tell the difference between the Grinch and the white-bearded Santa Claus. Anyway, there's not a whole lot that happens up until the Grinch steals Christmas, though Jim Carrey does everything he can to keep the film from straying off into total boredom.
I've implied it enough throughout this review so I guess I'm just delaying the inevitable at this point; this live-action How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a lot funnier and is more of a triumphant viewing experience for adults than it is for children. Kids can watch this movie no problem, because kids are likely to be won over by Jim Carrey in one of his most Jim Carrey-esque performances ever. However, too many lines are likely to only be funny to adults who can understand and even relate to what the Grinch is saying and how he feels. I am probably in the minority when I say I think this movie is quite funny and is a worthwhile Christmas movie to watch around the holidays. It may deviate from the Dr. Seuss book, but with no risk comes no reward.
Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red
Gremlins is directed by Joe Dante and stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holliday, and Francis Lee McCain. Steven Spielberg served as the film's execute producer.
The question, "Is Gremlins a Christmas classic?" is one whose answer isn't definitive in the slightest. Criticism for the film has been all over the place, being praised by some as a witty satire on consumer culture, while being maligned by others as racist and overly-violent. It's a film about fuzzy little critters that appear cute and cuddly, but if certain rules aren't followed, they will transform into mischievous little devils that will cause havoc for everyone. This is a premise that has multiple paths to possibly take, and seeing that the film is rated PG, I'm led to believe that it chose the more family-friendly path.
The horror genre doesn't target children, but if for some reason it ever does (God I hope not), there's most certainly going to be some element of silliness or goofiness to the film, because why in the world would any filmmaker want children to go to the theater, only to get frightened and then go home crying, unable to sleep for days? There are plenty of things that scare children, but if you show them that the scary thing is accompanied with some form of appropriate humor, you'll likely be able to ease their fears.
Gremlins is about as close as you'll come to a legitimate children's horror movie, although I struggle to give a valid reason as to how it's suitable for children at all. Many violent acts happen throughout the film that would garner more of a PG-13 rating, and the Gremlins themselves look like monsters produced from a child's nightmare. Joe Dante acknowledged how some families felt cheated out of getting to see a family-friendly picture, bringing their children but walking out before the film ended. Nonetheless, Gremlins experienced effective merchandising with sales of stuffed animals, action figures, and even trading cards. Merchandising also got a boost from the fact that the film takes place around Christmas time.
We are introduced to Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axon), a struggling inventor who is looking for a Christmas present for his son Billy (Zach Galligan). Randall visits a Chinatown antique store and finds a small, furry creature called a mogwai. The shop owner (Keye Luke) refuses to sell the mogwai, but the owner's grandson (John Louie), knowing that business is struggling, sneaks the creature out of the shop to give to Randall. Randall is told of three rules that must be followed in order to take care of the mogwai.
1.) Do not expose him to bright light or sunlight, because that will kill the creature.
2.) Don't get him wet.
3.) Never ever, no matter how much he may beg, feed him after midnight.
Randall returns home and gives the mogwai to Billy, which is given the name Gizmo. Billy takes good care of Gizmo, but when one of Billy's friends comes over, a glass of water accidentally spills onto Gizmo, causing him to spawn five more mogwai creatures. However, the new mogwai aren't as friendly as Gizmo, being led by a mogwai given the name Stripe. Stripe and his gang trick Billy into giving them food after midnight, causing the new mogwai to turn into cocoons. From these cocoons hatch troublesome little monsters that escape and cause havoc in the town.
- The best thing about Gremlins is how it lends itself to some interesting analysis in regards to social commentary and materialism, largely supported by how the film takes place around Christmas. In some ways, the mogwais/Gremlins are like us as human beings around Christmas: the cute and cuddly Gizmo represents our warmhearted intentions of spreading Christmas joy with family and friends, while the Stripe-led Gremlins embody how we indulge in the spending and sharing of expensive and elaborate gifts, because, after all, Christmas is the season of giving. There's a scene in which all of the evil Gremlins are at a bar, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and wolfing down loads of food. It made me think of what could happen if someone decides to throw a big blow-out party because, y'know, it's Christmas! But at the same time, Gremlins can be seen as having no worthy themes at all, being just an entertaining horror comedy that begs for a bag of popcorn and a large drink in hand. I say to you, however, the film is much more interesting if viewed with a more critical eye.
- When it comes to how dark and violent that Gremlins is, I can only think of it as a low point. Along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins led to the creation of the PG-13 rating, being too violent for a PG rating yet not graphic and horrifying enough to garner an R rating. Steven Spielberg came out and credited himself with the creation of the PG-13 rating, having directed Temple of Doom and producing Gremlins. Because of how cruel and violent that the Gremlins turn out to be, a lot of the fun is sucked out of the film, because no longer are we able to view the Gremlins as mischievous little devils that would draw the reaction of a mother scolding their toddler for making a mess in the kitchen. The Gremlins don't just vandalize buildings and prank townspeople; they're out for blood and won't hesitate to kill anyone that they happen to come across. A couple gets run over in their home by a vehicle that the Gremlins take over, and an old woman gets rocketed off a stair lift and out a window, falling to her death. You know, a kids movie!
If for whatever reason it sounds like I'm not saying that much, it's because I'm doing so on purpose. This is the kind of film that I like to leave as much as possible for the curious first time viewer, because Gremlins sticks with you well after the end credits roll. It's a neat film from top to bottom: being well-acted, well-edited, and offering some quality special effects. If looked at in the right way, Gremlins is a satirical outlook on our dual-nature as humans during the Christmas season. A lot of the violence may be a major turn-off for viewers, but the film still maintains itself as a fun bubble filled with laughs. Gremlins is not an all-time classic, but I'd say it's on the periphery of classic films, and that's something that's hard to ignore.
Recommend? Yes, though it's best not to show it to kids.
I got the results of the test back. I definitely love The Room
The Room is directed, written, produced by, and stars Tommy Wiseau. The film also stars Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero, Philip Haldiman, and Carolyn Minnott.
Watching a bad movie is an activity that is sometimes fun, sometimes painful, and rarely some awkward combination of fun and painful. I have seen more bad movies than the average person will likely see in their life time, although, how can I be sure this is actually true? Film is subjective, and a movie that I say is a bad movie could be honored as a great movie by someone else. What I'm getting at is that once you see enough bad movies, you can clearly begin to distinguish between those on-the-fence bad movies that might be able to win over a few suckers and those bad movies that you know are bad. Bad in the sense that the people who were responsible for creating the movie clearly had no idea how to properly execute their material, yet still insisted that they go with what they got, no matter how foolish that everyone would look at the end of the day. Whenever I watch a movie, I want to feel that everyone involved in the film's production is a dedicated professional who puts their heart and soul into their craft, because they truly love what they do and want everyone interested in watching their movie to enjoy what is given to them on screen. We all know, however, that making a movie is no simple task, and if you've read enough behind the scenes information for movies, you will easily see that many things can get in the way of the film being any good: disconnect between the director and production crew, a low budget resulting in cut-rate effects, certain actors causing everyone headaches, a script that clearly didn't go through multiple drafts. The list goes on and on.
With everything I just said, this is where I now transition into my discussion of The Room: a movie that defies all bad movie sensibility and a masterpiece of film-making in all the wrong ways. It does everything wrong and in such a unique fashion, that I have no clue as to where to possibly begin. The film first premiered in Los Angeles in June of 2003, being promoted almost exclusively through a billboard in Hollywood that Tommy Wiseau had rented. The billboard featured the picture of Tommy Wiseau that I have shown above, to which Wiseau called, "Evil Man." As you can see, the picture is a close-up of Wiseau's face with one-eye in half blink, and it led many passers-by to assume that The Room was a horror movie. They were right. The Room is a horror movie, a horror-ble movie. Audiences who saw the film were baffled, laughing at things that were not meant to be laughed at. The film was pulled from circulation not long after its premiere. However, word-of-mouth resulted in about 100 people attending the final screening, and several of these attendants contacted Wiseau, telling him how much they enjoyed the film. The responses of these people was the beginning of what is now one of the largest cult followings for a movie to be released in the 21st century.
I have seen The Room in its entirety twice now, although I've watched its most infamous scenes far too many times to count. Now having such a dedicated fan-base, I'm not sure what I can say about The Room that hasn't been said already. Then again, the makings and reasoning behind The Room still remain as great of a mystery today as they were back in 2003, so perhaps there's still much more about The Room that has yet to be said. Here's what we do know: there is not a single thing about The Room that didn't come from the mind of Tommy Wiseau, and boy, is there A LOT to say about him. Wiseau has explained that he drew a lot of inspiration from the likes of Orson Welles, Clint Eastwood, and James Dean, going so far as to use direct quotes from their films. Wiseau has also explained that the reasoning behind the title is that a room is a place that can host both good and bad events. He's even come out and stated that The Room is meant to be a black comedy, although audiences and some of the film's cast disagree with this.
Instead, The Room is more of a romantic drama, but even that I'm not so sure of. The story of The Room revolves around a love triangle between a banker named Johnny (Tommy Wiseau), his fiancee, Lisa (Juliette Danielle), and his best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). Johnny and Lisa are to be married soon, but Lisa has grown unhappy about spending her life with Johnny, finding him boring and strange. Lisa begins a secret affair with Mark and begins to make false allegations of domestic abuse against Johnny. Lisa also informs her mother, Claudette (Caroyln Minnott), and several of her friends about how she no longer loves Johnny. From there, the majority of the film is Johnny showing his love and appreciation for Lisa while she maintains her secret affair with Mark. There's also various subplots, some involving a boy named Denny (Philip Haldiman) who Lisa and Johnny take care of. None of them go anywhere, however, due to the film's bizarre and incoherent narrative.
On a serious note, there is no question that The Room is one of the worst films ever made. Everything from directing, acting, writing, and cinematography is some of the worst that you'll ever find in a mainstream film. The thing is, though, none of it is bad in a way that will leave you in an ongoing state of agony, dreading every precious second you are spending watching The Room. And that's part of why I can't recommend it highly enough. A love triangle story is nothing to get upset about (although the fact that Twilight exists would suggest otherwise), and Tommy Wiseau shows no desire to make The Room to be pretentious or preachy about anything like confusing San Francisco politics or the state of the California environment. This is a movie about seemingly normal, everyday people that are actually trapped in the dark realm of Tommy Wiseau's imagination, a place where the cosmos are thrown out of proportion, the moon shines during the day, and cats and dogs get married.
- The Room is an enigma, a set of Penrose stairs that has no beginning, no end, and no solution in sight. Every viewing offers something new and feels as wholly fresh as it was when watching it the first time around. It is a bottomless barrel of entertainment and an absolute gem of unintentional comedy. No, I myself do not agree with Mr. Wiseau about the film being a black comedy, because The Room cannot be fully enjoyed if perceived as such. Unintentional comedy is one of the best forms of comedy, although "unintentional comedy" sounds something of an oxymoron. Watch a comedy, and you clearly understand that the main goal of the filmmakers is to make you laugh. But I say to you, never forget one of the most basic comic principles: people trying to be serious and failing will always be funnier than people trying to be funny. Despite what Tommy Wiseau says, he and the rest of the cast members are obviously not attempting to make you laugh. They're attempting to make a serious-minded drama, but they fail so hard at doing so, that laughs are inevitable. Tommy Wiseau has various scenes in which Johnny is clearly supposed to be angry or merely upset, but displaying such emotions appears to be beyond his skill set. Wiseau also delivers his lines like an alien who barely knows basic English and isn't articulate in the slightest. The most famous example is when an angry Johnny shows up on a rooftop after finding out about Lisa accusing him of hitting her. Johnny shouts to himself, "I did not hit her! It's not true! It's bullshit! I did not hit her! I did naaaahht!" Johnny throws a water bottle to the ground and immediately notices Mark sitting alone in a chair, to which he calmly states, "Oh hai, Mark." The fluctuations in Johnny's emotions and the awful dialogue never cease to be amusing, drawing questions as to how Wiseau believed employing such horrendous acting and writing techniques could possibly work in any way.
- I mean, everything imaginable in The Room can be appropriately argued as a low point. Wiseau's acting is indecipherable, falling on some hazy line that would likely define the acting style of extraterrestrial life-forms. Wiseau frequently forgot his lines and missed cues on set, resulting in multiple retakes and many of his lines being re-dubbed in post production. Technical flaws are overflowing: the green screen for scenes on the roof is atrociously bad, entire scenes are out of focus, and a heavy amount of the dialogue having to be re-dubbed resulted in several scenes being out of sync.
All of these are forgivable offenses when it comes to the unholy terror that is the screenplay. Here we get a parade of hilariously bad lines ("Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!") and subplots that have absolutely zero effect on the overarching story. Lisa meets with Claudette early on, where Claudette casually mentions that she has breast cancer. Lisa dismisses this, telling her mom she's not dying and to not worry about it. Claudette's apparent breast cancer diagnosis is never brought up again for the remainder of the film. Then there's all of the weird stuff going on with Denny. Oh, Denny, the creeper kid that Johnny and Lisa care for. Denny's creepy antics (and they are VERY creepy) involve jumping into Johnny's bed when Johnny and Lisa are getting ready to have sex. Denny explains that, "I just love to watch you guys." Not long afterwards, Denny straight up asks Lisa if he can kiss her. Denny then later on tells Johnny that he thinks he's in love with Lisa, news that Johnny is completely unfazed by, as he simply tells Denny to go on with his explanation, instead of showing confusion or anger as any sane person about to get married would show. None of the Denny being in love with Lisa dreck, however, comes anywhere close to the hilarious Chris-R (Dan Janjigian) rooftop scene. Chris-R is a drug dealer who Denny owes money to, proceeding to threaten Denny with a gun when Denny shows up without any money. Johnny and Mark arrive on the scene to stop Chris-R and take him away. Johnny and Mark get back to the rooftop in record time, where Lisa and Claudette are comforting Denny and getting him to explain himself. The entire sequence adds absolutely nothing to the plot, its importance confined only to its restricted space in the film's 99 minutes. The same can be said for so many other scenes whose potential contributions to the story are left behind, never to be addressed ever again.
We meet several of Lisa and Johnny's friends, such as a couple named Mike (Scott Holmes) and Michelle (Robyn Paris), who somehow have access to Johnny's apartment. There's also a psychologist named Peter (Kyle Vogt), but he only appears in about two or three scenes. All of these friends appear with no kind of heads up, their purpose in the film amounting to little more than to provide moral support and advice for Johnny and Lisa.
So now how do I properly bring my thoughts on the disasterpiece that is The Room to a close? To this day, I still have yet to uncover every little secret and every bit of information on the inner lives of human beings (or human beans as Johnny puts it in the film) that I firmly believe Tommy Wiseau has stashed away in the dark, mysterious corners of this movie. I cannot for the life of me remember the very first time that I came across The Room, and I don't think this is a coincidence. The Room is a Rubik's Cube that is impossible to solve, but you'll get so into trying to solve it, you will eventually forget how and why you started trying to solve it in the first place. It's a broken movie that would come from the mind of David Lynch, if David Lynch were high on bath salts. In some ways, The Room is a life-changing movie. After one has been exposed to it, the rules of film-making will never be looked at the same way again, and the criteria for evaluating a movie as bad will be forever put into question.
The Room is not a bad movie that one can simply forget and move on from. It is unlike any other film that you will ever come across during your lifetime, presenting abut every movie problem imaginable but in such a unique way that you almost have to appreciate it. No one will fully understand what was going through Tommy Wiseau's mind when the film was being made, and I don't think even Wiseau himself fully understood what he was doing. On the surface level, it is clear that Wiseau did not have the proper knowledge or expertise for making a professional film, translating to the film's various technical and narrative flaws. But at the same time, The Room is not something that I think anyone could purposefully concoct. It renders all things like logic and reason useless, resulting in a product that is truly one of the most outrageous movies of this generation. There will never be another movie like The Room, not in this age or any other. So anyway, how's your sex life?
Recommend? Yes, I think everyone should see this movie at least once, especially if you love football. This is truly a "see it to believe it" kind of movie.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: