Sunday, December 7, 2008

Twilight (2008)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Okay, now for a more professional review...sort of. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. The "film" is based on a novel written by Stephanie Myer, who was very involved in the process of the film. The plot from the book is dumbed down greatly for the movie and it is pretty basic: Girl finds cute vampire guy. Cute vampire guy likes girl....and wants to suck her blood out. Both fall in love? Sounds great, right?

Enough of the boring information and on to the review. This movie is awful from every single aspect. Plot, acting, DIALOGUE, and even direction are all severely lacking in this clusterfuck of a movie. Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson are painfully awkward actors, especially with each other. There isn't a point in the movie where Pattinson doesn't look like he's on the verge of running to the restroom in a split second. Stewart provides the same monotone, boring emotion for every single line of dialogue in this picture. I'm not sure that her voice ever changes, no matter what the situation. It seems she has taken a lesson from the Keanu School of Emotion. The rest of the cast aren't even relevant, but they are equally as bad.

Having seen the film Thirteen, I was actually rather excited to see what Catherine Hardwicke could pull of with this movie. Thirteen, it's true, was sometimes annoying and sometimes boring to watch, but it's a fairly solid film. However, Twilight proves that Hardwicke isn't ready for the big time and she did not pull this off. Nevermind completely lacking the ability to get a decent line of dialogue out of even one actor, she couldn't even really manage to shoot one redeemable scene. Twilight, despite being utter shit, has managed to gross massive amounts of cash and really hasn't had anything overly negative said about it. It has just sort of been overlooked as being shit because of it's massive fan base and ability to make some major bank. Not from me, however.

Overall, Twilight is utter garbage which virtually rapes the source material it originates from. From the hysterical, Ed Wood style acting and a script that belonged in the paper shredder, this movie is awful. Hopefully, you all didn't suckered in to the hype and have managed to avoid this blemish upon the world of cinema.

1/10 and that one is only there because Kristen Stewart is mildly attractive.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Overrated Movies: Nightmare Before Christmas (1997)

For a movie with such a high reputation, a huge cult following, and praise from everyone on the planet, Nightmare Before Christmas really isn't good at all. Directed by Henry Selick, Nightmare Before Christmas utilizes the stop motion animation respect. In this respect, it is very impressive and unique. Although it isn't directed by him, this film just oozes Tim Burton. The film follows Jack Skellington who lives in Halloween Town and one day finds the entrance to "Christmas Town". Skellington sees the traditions of this new world and he desires to emulate them in his town. Doesn't that sound good? Well, too bad it is boring and poorly acted. The film is only an hour and a half long, but it feels a good hour longer than that. It is so difficult to get through and you'll find yourself checking you watch several times throughout. The voice acting is some of the worst I have ever seen. Whoever voiced Sally deserved a good, hard smack in the face.

The popularity of this movie truly boggles my mind. I can't really understand why some think it is so amazing. Is it just the fact that it's so out there? Is it the animation? Is it just Burton's cult charm? I'd be willing to bet it's one of those, but it's right up there with Napoleon Dynamite as the most merchandised shitty movie of all time. Also, I strongly recommend that you do not go and see this in it's annual 3D theater run. The 3D is extremely disappointing, not to mention annoying and out of place. It's a movie that wasn't made for 3D, hence it looks awful as a 3D movie. If you agree with me and don't like Nightmare Before Christmas, then I highly suggest that you go out and rent Corpse Bride. It is also by Tim Burton and is also stop animation, but it is vastly superior to its predecessor. Even if you did like Nightmare Before Christmas, check out Corpse Bride. There are few times that I've been more disappointed with a movie than when I saw Nightmare and that's unfortunate. I sincerely wanted to love the hell out of this movie, but it wasn't happening.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tupac: Resurrection (2003)

A thug. A punk. An inspiration. The greatest rapper of all time. A menace. A detriment to the youth of America. All words used to describe Tupac Amaru Shakur. The words I use to describe Tupac? A fucking genius rapper. Tupac: Resurrection was directed by Lauren Lazin and made in close collaboration with Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur. It is the story of Tupac as told by Tupac. Through archive footage, interviews, live performances, and narration by Tupac, it is as genuine and you could ever possibly get. What I liked most about this documentary was how it declined to show Tupac like the media did during his life, but instead showed him as an intelligent man who was proud of where he came from. Tupac's intelligence is showcased in this documentary and his take on the world and all it's goings-on rang true. This man was definitely a fan of Philosophy and I think that shines through in this film.

The music used in Tupac: Resurrection is absolutely phenomenal. Whether you're a Tupac fan or not, you can not deny the brilliance of his lyrics, beats, and skills as a rapper. Even if don't think you enjoy rap, I strongly encourage you to take a listen to Tupac's "Changes", "Hit 'em Up", "Keep Ya Head Up", and "Thugz Mansion" to get your first taste of Tupac. If you're turned off by rap, I still believe you can like Tupac. I thought I hated rap for years until I first heard Tupac and I came back to the genre. It's great to see Tupac live in this documentary because I had not seen much of that. I loved how Tupac explained the feeling of going onstage for the first time and the joy he must have had on stage shows in his live performances. The music of the documentary never stops and each Tupac song flows into the next through each scene. I highly reccommend the soundtrack, especially for the tracks "Runnin' (Dyin' to Live)" and "The Realist Killaz"

Tupac: Resurrection doesn't show Tupac as some holier than thou kind of musical god. It shows Tupac's flaws and run ins with the law. Shakur is quick to accept and acknowledge his mistakes, something that is uncommon with many pop culture figures. Tupac clears up misconceptions about his career and troubles that were distorted over time. He has two sides of his personality that are seen in the documentary. The quiet, reserved, and introspective Tupac and the loud mouthed, trouble making, rebellious Tupac. Both sides are intriguing to watch. Love him or hate him, Tupac was a fascinating human being and it's a shame the trouble he caused caught up to him in a fatal way. In my humble opinion, the rap world has never been the same since Tupac was taken from it. The only rapper since Tupac who has been good is Eminem, but no one other than that. RIP Tupac Shakur: The rapper, the genius, the man who was proud of where he came from, the man who made mistakes, the man who changed the face of music, and the man.

10/10 for a fascinating, introspective, and unconventional documentary

“No man alive has witnessed struggles I survived”
-Tupac Shakur

PS. Thug life... :D

Monday, September 22, 2008

Overrated Movies: Alien (1979)

Oh dear, this new segment is going to cause some considerable controversy. I've been feeling lately that there are a lot of movies that I personally don't get why they are so highly rated. Now, of course, this doesn't mean that everybody likes the movie, but there is a trend in the general public that seems to hold a certain movie extremely highly. I'm not saying that anyone who likes these movies is wrong, but I just don't agree with the sentiment. This week I am going to say that the "classic" Alien is overrated. Yes, this is coming from the guy who gave Titanic and 9.5/10.

The premise is extremely simple, so try to follow me: People are in a spaceship, they land on a planet, and VERY SLOWLY discover the presence of an alien race. Alien was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, and Ian Holm. Since I just mentioned the actors, let's go ahead and start there. Sigourney Weaver....there are few people to me who are more annoying. I don't think she has any sort of acting chops to speak of and she is mostly just a bitch the whole movie. If playing a huge bitch is great acting, she's an absolute star. Sorry. Weaver did nothing but irritate me the entire film and she, along with Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock, is an actress who I cannot stand to see any more in a movie. The rest of the cast, well, they didn't really have to do much. Veronica Cartwright was almost as terrible as Sigourney Weaver and the male actors really don't do anything at all. Let's just move on, because I think I'm really making some people angry here.

As I mentioned in the plot summary, the movie is so unbelievably slow. It's about an hour and forty-five minutes of nothing and then it has something that is noteworthy for a minute or two. The only scene that anyone ever talks about with Alien is the now legendary "alien bursting out of the stomach" scene. After hearing about that damn scene for so long, it was one of the biggest letdowns I have ever experienced. There was no shock factor at all for me. Does it seem to anyone else besides me that the ONLY scene anyone ever talks about from Alien is that one scene? Whenever I hear it brought up on a podcast, in a conversation, or on the Internet, that is the only scene they talk about. The scene really isn't that great at all. The alien that bursts out is weak, at best. Sorry, but that has always pissed me off. The movie is an absolute bore and I know that I can't make it through that one again, but maybe I'll try.

The direction, however, is pretty damn good. My faults with the movie truly lie in the acting and the dialogue, or lack thereof. I cannot say that it was badly directed by any stretch of the imagination, however. Ridley Scott did a very good job and, although I've only seen Gladiator and Alien, I like Ridley. I have Blade Runner sitting on my shelf to watch, but I'm afraid to watch it because I don't think I'll like it at all.

When I think of most of the movies that I find overrated, I feel most of them are overrated to me because they are simply boring. Now, that makes me sound like a punk, but it's absolutely true. Alien truly bored the living hell out of me and I honestly don't understand why it's so highly regarded. Can someone please explain it to me? Please? After watching it, I immediately thought, "Was that it? That damn Sigourney Weaver is terrible." Well, please let me know your thoughts and, again, I really don't think anyone is stupid for loving Alien, but I didn't get it. Now that I'm at the end, it feels like that was just an angry rant with no real depth. Oh well, that's probably what most of the overrated movie posts will be.]


Monday, September 15, 2008

12 "Movies You Should See" at Hollywood Video.

Having been recently employed at Hollywood Video, they have given me the opportunity to have my own section of movies I want to recommend to people. I was told to select 12 and, being the huge dork that I am, this really got me thinking. These are movies I think people really need to see, but that does not mean that they are my favorite movies. I have created my list and I thought this blog was a great place to share the 12 I selected and a short explanation for each. These explanations are really for why I chose these films for the general public to check out.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
----- What can be said about Pulp Fiction that hasn't already been said a thousand times? This was one of the obvious picks I chose, but this film truly changed my life. Before Pulp Fiction, I really didn't know what a great film was supposed to be. After being blown about by the masterpiece by Tarantino, I knew exactly what that term "masterpiece" truly meant. Fantastic dialogue, acting, action, and characters. What else do you need?

2. 12 Angry Men (1957)
----- This may seem like another obvious choice, but not for the audience I am targeting. 12 Angry Men is my favorite type of film: simple , with great dialogue and great acting. The premise and location is so simple and sounds boring when first heard. However, it is captivating from beginning to end. Henry Fonda does a great job in this Civics class favorite.

3. Back to the Future (1985)

----- Okay, this one is so unbelievably fucking obvious! But, come on, how can you not recommend this to the average folk wandering aimlessly around the video store? Just a fun, stone cold classic. I defy anyone to pick this one up off of my shelf and tell me that they thought it sucked.

4. Yojimbo (1961)
----- Here is where I really start to pull stuff out of left field for the general moviegoers. Yojim-what? Yojimbo, bitches! My favorite Kurosawa film and the first foreign film that I really loved. It's funny, full of action, and has great acting. If the damn people coming into the store will just get over themselves and not care about reading in a movie. Come on, is it really that hard to read? Try it and I think you'll dig it.

5. Little Children (2006)

----- I already reviewed this movie, so I'll keep this brief. I'm very certain most people haven't even heard of this one, which included me at one point. It's a solid pick for the suburban people in my town and they may possibly connect on some level to the characters. Kate Winslet is always a star and the people in the video store need to see her in something else other than Titanic. That's not a knock on Titanic, of course, because you all know how foolishly I love that movie.

6. American History X (1998)

----- It surprises me how many people in the town I live really dig Edward Norton. I'm right there with them, as well. He is awesome in American History X, as is the rest of the cast. This is another film that really changed my perception of cinema and although I've someone outgrown it now, it still really moves me whenever I see it. It's also a movie that I love watching with others to see what their reactions and thoughts are.

7. Trainspotting (1996)

----- Another one that I think most people have never even heard of. This might be a little difficult to watch for the common renter, but if they can make it through...maybe they'll really like it. This will also erase the notion that Ewan McGregor has only played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. This movie just has one of those vibes that I really dig. You picking up what I'm putting down? That's what I thought, bitch! Um....sorry for the jive talk.

8. This is Spinal Tap (1984)

----- You really can't get much funnier than this film. The first time I watched it, I laughed my ass off. The second time, I laughed even harder. Spinal Tap gets better every single time I pop it in. Hopefully this can cancel out the modern day spoof movie in the eyes of the customers. Because, well, it's actually funny...unlike "Epic Movie", "The Love Guru", and every other abomonation to the spoof genre that we have had to stomach in the past 5 years.

9. Better Off Dead (1985)

----- Another one that I really don't think many have heard of, but it does seem to be gaining steam as of late. Just a really silly 80s comedy with a lot of great gags and a great comedic performance from John Cusack. If this one flew under the radar for most in the 80s, hopefully they'll pick it up and laugh at the absurdity of the whole damn movie.

10. Barton Fink (1991)

----- A highly underrated film and my favorite of the Coen Bros. to date. John Turturro does a great job, but John Goodman steals the show for me. John Goodman, of all fucking people! Another one of those great dialogue films for me. I mean, not much happens...but I loved watching it the whole time. The scenes with only Turturro and Goodman are far and away the best. Absolutely blew me when I saw it.

11. Manhattan (1979)

----- Damn, I should have put This is Spinal Tap at #11! Oh well. There's just something about Woody Allen that I really, really, love. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's his dialogue, maybe it's his acting, maybe it's just something that cannot be explained. Manhattan, for me, was better than Annie Hall in almost every way. The love story is not the normal one that we seem to have been presented with for so long. Great characters and, especially, dialogue.

12. Wayne's World (1992)

----- Wow, what an enjoyable movie. After I first watched this, it instantly became my favorite movie of all time. That, of course, has now changed. However, my love of the movie has never really dwindled. It's so unbelievably funny and quotable. If the customers are looking for an afternoon of silly fun, then look no further. I guarantee an hour and a half of laughter, or something close to it. You have to at least appreciate the movie for it's fine use of the hai ku. I mean,"It's like we're looking down on Wayne's basement, only that's not Wayne's basement. Isn't that weird?"

Well, there you have it. Greyson's "Movies You Should See" coming soon to the Hollywood Video nowhere near you. I would really appreciate any thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Elvis: The Miniseries (2005)

Elvis: The Miniseries was produced by Starz and aired in May 2005. The miniseries primarily stars Johnathan Rhys Meyers and Randy Quaid. These two get the most air time as Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker, respectively. There are quite a few other recognizable faces who make appearances throughout this three hour long miniseries. It is directed by James Steven Sadwith, who I doubt anyone has ever heard of.

The plot, I'm sure, is fairly obvious. The miniseries follows the life of the legend Elvis Presley and his career. From his humble beginnings, to his stardom, to his gradual undoing. Sounds really cliche' doesn't it? For the most part, this miniseries is the typical musical artist/band formula. From nothing, to superstar, to druggie, to insanity. The only part of the formula that this miniseries doesn't follow is the demise, save for a short epilogue at the end. We never see the true demise that Elvis experienced in his life, as the miniseries ends after the 1968 Comeback Special and we never see Elvis' fall from grace. In regards to the plot, Elvis: The Miniseries has it's ups and downs. Some parts seem cliche', others are fun to watch. For example, I felt that the last 30 minutes of the production were absolutely wonderful and really lifted the first two and a half hours. Now I'll move on to the acting...

Since he plays the most important role, I'll start with Johnathan Rhys Myers. Most people I've talked to seem to really dislike this guy, but I honestly haven't seen him in anything else but this production. As with the plot, JRM is hit and miss. I felt that in the "on stage" scenes, he really captured Elvis and his stage presence. His delivery of dialogue and interaction with other actors is an entirely differently story. Also, I wish they would have gotten someone who could sing for this part, because it really jars the viewer out of the mood when the performance is supposed to be live and the voice coming out of JRM is the studio recording. The few times Myers actually tries to sing...well, maybe it was alright to use studio recordings. Also, if you watch this, tell me if you think Myers looks like Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line, because sometimes I felt that the resemblance was uncanny. Overall, Myers was decent, but I feel that someone else could have done a much better job. Randy Quaid, on the other hand, was very good. His portrayal of Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was fantastic and was one of the saving graces of the production.

As a huge Elvis fan, my views on this miniseries may be a bit skewed. I've been an Elvis fan since the tender age of 12 and from everything I've read, seen, or heard about Elvis, this miniseries is very accurate. There is one other thing I liked about the production that I would like to share. First of all, the music selected for the miniseries is fantastic. A lot of it are songs that the casual Elvis listener has never heard of and I liked that. Instead of playing songs like "Viva Las Vegas", "Jailhouse Rock", and "Blue Christmas", the miniseries plays better songs such as, "If I Can Dream", "My Happiness", and "Lawdy Miss Clawdy". The song selection has gotten me back into Elvis in a very big way and I liked it for that specific reason. If you are a casual Elvis fan, a big Elvis fan, or have only heard "Hound Dog", then I think you should try to check out the documentary This is Elvis and then you might want to check this miniseries out.

A little bit cliche', some pretty good acting, an incredible legend, but a very flawed production.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Little Children (2006)

My apologies for the lack of posts, I was busy fight the tyrant Lord Haas to force him to release the new episode of the MeanDawg Top 5. I have officially succeeded and I will now withdraw my army from the battlefield. Today, I'm reviewing a film that caught me completely by surprise and a film that I had not heard anything about before I bought it and watched it. As you can probably guess from the title, I'm reviewing Little Children today.

Little Children stars Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, and, most importantly, my favorite actress of all time: Kate Winslet. Written and directed by Todd Field, the film focuses on life in suburbia for Sarah Pierce (Winslet), Richard Pierce (Gregg Edelman), Brad Adamson (Wilson), and Kathy Adamson (Connelly). In Little Children, we see each of the characters change their lives, their way of thinking, and/or make some form of self-discovery. This makes it very similar to American Beauty in that respect, because of the similar themes of making your life better. Instead of living in the doldrums of everyday life, change something and do what you've always wanted to do.

The plot of the movie is a bit difficult to get into, because each character really has their own plot. Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson's characters are both unhappy in their marriages and when they meet, they know that there is something there between the two of them. Connelly spends most of the movie trying to figure out what is wrong with her husband, but she also shows in her actions why her husband is unhappy. There is also a subplot and "sub-character" in the film named Ronnie. Ronnie is a convicted pedophile and, to say the least, his welcome back to suburbia is not a warm one. We follow this plot and we follow all of the hatred, loneliness, and anger that Ronnie feels. It's so hard to describe this plot, because it is so well done and so deep. However, I think I've done the best I can with that.

Little Children is my absolute favorite kind of film: A character and dialogue driven film. If that's not really your kind of thing, I don't know if you'll like this one. The acting, for the most part, is very, very good. Which is required for this kind of movie, because you won't buy it if the actors don't pull it off. Wilson and Winslet are clearly the best in this film, but Connelly and the other more minor characters do a nice job as well. Plus, Connelly isn't too bad to look at. Then again, Kate Winslet is a beautiful woman. So, if that's what you're looking for, you probably won't be disappointed. ;)

There are a few flaws, notably the opening narration. It's a shame that's the first thing you notice in the film, because it is just a little bit cheesy. However, once you get past that, the movie draws you in with the characters. Overall, a vastly underrated movie and one that most people haven't gotten around too. I loved it.


I know that's a really stupid grade to give a movie, but it feels right. 8/10 and 9/10 just didn't feel right.