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March 2010 Review Roundup

A few more than last month, but could've seen a few more. A Serious Man isn't counted in the viewing tally because it was shut off after 20 minutes of suckitude.

March 1 - A Serious Man (FUCB/10); Fantastic Mr. Fox (6/10)
March 3 - Hot Tub Time Machine (8/10); Up (8/10)
March 8 - $9.99 (4/10)
March 9 - From Paris With Love (5/10)
March 14 - Alice in Wonderland (8/10); The Crazies (3/10)
March 22 - Edge of Darkness (4/10)

Month's Movies Watched: 8
Previously Unseen: 7
Theatrical: 3
Home: 5
Year-To-Date: 25
YTD First-Timers: 24
YTD Theatrical: 6
YTD Home: 19

"24 S8.14" Recap - “Jack in the Land of the CHUDs”

24 S8.14 – “Jack in the Land of the CHUDs”

• Jack’s ribs have been pulverized, but he’s blowing it off cuz he’s BADASS!
• Now Evil Starbuck is knocking out satellites to let Dante slip away. Where was this chick when the hillbillies were bossing her around?
• Junction Jack’s back with Prez Cherry and he’s not happy. Bubba can’t guarantee the Big Apple. Someone’s career is in trouble.
• Prez Cherry wants Jack to help protect Regis. This is the same woman who was having Jack arrested last season for torture. Bitch. Make up your mind!
• Red wants to stick with Jack on the mission. Is she gonna die? Nah, too early. Jack’s women die in the last hour.
• Dante gets the rods to Akbar the Bomba. Yay Evil Starbuck! Wait, what?!?
• Did Jack catch a chopper to the UN or did he just will himself and Red there?
• Jack tells Regis the plan. Regis asks, “How does my hair look? Awesome? Awesome!”
• Dante calls Prez Cherry and demands Regis in exchange for not nuking the city. Good thing he’s not doing this with Detroit; they’d take him up on the opportunity to improve it.
• Prez’s Weasel Whom I Never Nicknamed thinks we should toss Regis to the wolves. Prez Cherry gets all righteous and rah-rah over recovering from the Carnegie Deli being nuked. Huzzah!
• Evil Starbuck – that’s too much to type – Starbitch asks Chloe for the police routes. Chloe looks annoyed, not suspicious.
• Dante checks in on Akbar, who’s whispering, ”Who’s a dirty bomb? You’re a dirty bomb!”
• It took 13-1/2 hours, but another familiar 24 trope has finally arrived: The rogue op by seditious government agents to give up Regis with plausible deniability.
• Did Chloe spot what Starbitch is up to?
• Bubba gives a rah-rah speech. Might have more impact if he hasn’t been a dumbass all day.
• Zaboo drives the bomb to the Upper West Side. TriBeCa peeps breathe a sigh of relief.
• General Mayhem thinks that Jack doesn’t stand a chance against his full operational battle station, er, elite stormtrooper squad. Yeah, right.
• Junction Jack walks in on them and figures out what they’re up to, but has a really poorly-timed heart attack. (Not that there’s a good time to go Code Blue, mind you.)
• Jack is suspicious of JJ’s dial and hang up. Yeah, there’s an ambush coming.
• Good thing there’s a bunch of cover in this tunnel, no? When I see this in a game, I know there’s a firefight up ahead.
• Weasel blows the bluff with Jack and he figures that something’s up.
• Big chaotic gunfight and I’m not sure how many, if any, Jack got. There have been different directors this year – what happened to Jon Cassar? – and they’re definitely not up to past scratch. Too much Paul Greengrass wannabeism.
• Jack and Red use smoke to easily ambush General Mayhem’s super-duper trooper squad. When I played paintball I wouldn’t have gone into a smoked up room, so what’s their story?
• Jack whacks five and gets saved by Regis from the last Red Shirt who tells them what the plan is.
• Dante tells Zaboo to do the do and start the final countdown. (Do-da-doo-doo, do-da-do-do-do!!!)

Thoughts: Isn’t it ironic that just as series has hit some semblance of a stride, it’s too late because the show’s been canned. Even though it’s finally given a good dose of tension again, the festering conundrum of Starbuck/Starbitch just sits there stinking up the place. There is just no way to square her behavior for the first half of the day with what she’s doing now.

Hardcores: Jack, Red, Starbitch, Regis, Prez Cherry, Weasel, General Mayhem.

Little Bitches: Red Shirts, Junction Jack.

Up Next: Jeez, way to give away a zillion story beats for the two-hour Double Power Hours next week, Fox. Regis sacrifices himself, Starbitch taunts Jack – THIS IS THE SAME WOMAN WHO COULDN’T SHOO OFF A PAIR OF HILLBILLIES!!!! – and the long-awaited return of the not-dead President Evil Little Bitch.

Episodes Score: 8.5/10 – Starbitch sucks off a half-point.

JBBC: I’m scoring five for Jack, bringing the count to 15; finally above a one-per-hour average.

"Edge of Darkness" Review

Mel Gibson makes his first movie acting appearance in 7 years in the lackluster Edge of Darkness, a wannabe Evil Government Conspiracy thriller that initially looks like a Man on Fire unstoppable vengeance flick, but meanders from banality to incomprehensible confusion.

After his daughter is shotgunned to death right next to him, Gibson's Boston police detective initially assumes that he was the target, but the deeper he digs, the more he finds that she may've been radiation-poisoned by her shady government contractor employer. A muttering Ray Winstone is also lurking around the fringes as some sort of fixer/hitman who may be there to help or hinder Gibson. Danny Huston plays the Evil Corporate Guy behind it all.

Gibson is photographed to look like hell - all lines and wrinkles - and he's good as the grieving dad on a mission, but he's done this before even better in the far better Ransom. Some of the supporting actors are gratingly one-note, especially the girl playing his daughter's friend with a hysterical (as in freaking out) Bawstan accent. But Edge of Darkness (lousy title) really falters in its last act as Gibson somehow gets afflicted as his daughter was; did he do this to himself deliberately or what?

4/10. Catch it on cable if nothing else is on.

ADDENDUM: It totally slipped my mind, but one real howler of a detail was that an Evil U.S. Senator involved in the conspiracy is a Republican. (Why not make him Martian?) Remember, this is set in Massachusetts. Until the election of Scott Brown two months ago, there hadn't been a GOP Senator since the Mesozoic era. How the filmmakers thought they could slip that past the audience indicates they either had fairly low presumptions of the herd's intelligence or were more interested in the cheap political shot. So lame.

"24 S8.13" Recap - “Writers Meeting at the Karaoke Bar”

24 S8.13 – “Writers Meeting at the Karaoke Bar”

• EMP aftermath – it’s been 5 minutes and they’re acting like it’s been a half-hour later judging by how much has transpired.
• Zaboo is having remorse for selling out Fajita. No kidding. She won’t be giving up her falafel to him anytime soon.
• Jack calls an old pal who happens to be working at 3 am and then guesses the exact dock that the Jihd Gang is shipping the rods from. Good thing the bad guys had time to put a quartet of snipers all over the place just in case someone found them there. Wait, what?
• NSA shows up and in the midst of a national security emergency, they have time to get into a dick-measuring contest with Bubba and CTU.
• Bubba rallies the troops with some Chumbawumba lyrics. OK, this is deliberate; no way have there been this many song lyric references this year.
• Chloe has a good idea to get online but NSA blocks her. Hmmmm, I wonder if they’re evil or just the usual government a-holes.
• Oh, there’s Agent Red; at Casa de la Jack. She’s looking remarkably refreshed for someone who was a total mess the last time we saw her.
• MILTON Yahoo is still jonesing for the Starbuck tapes. First lameness of the hour arrives halfway in.
• I guess NSA techs aren’t armed as Chloe whips a gat on them. This isn’t gonna end well, is it?
• Jeez, is that gun fight still going on and no one has called the local cops? Is gunfire like that that common in Brooklyn these days?
• Jack tries to reassure the Red Shirts, but as expected they screw it up and get themselves capped. Full Metal Jacket homage.
• Fajita is back at the UN and Regis is gonna ground her for eleventy-gajillion years.
• Screaming Trees lyrics now?!? Oh, come on!!!
• They bust in on Chloe who convinces Bubba to give her 10 minutes to win it. Starbuck disagrees with her plan and we all know what a good egg she’s been .
• For crap’s sake, why the hell doesn’t Bubba tell Milton to come back during business hours. ”Hmmmm, I’ve got a national security threat; my agency has been blinded by terrorists; I’ve got my nerds ready to cat fight and pulling guns on the intra-agency nerds; why not take the meeting with the probation officer from the Ozarks?”
• Yay, Chloe!!! NSA dweeb is like, ”Whutevah.”
• Why the heck didn’t Jack and Damp Boi put on the Red Shirt’s armor or at least helmets? Good thing that Red showed up in time to save the day, no?
• Line of the Week: Chloe, “I’m not good with praise.”
• Starbuck goes to see Milton and WHOA!!!! Starbuck goes hardcore and garrotes him! Yeah, like that body’s not gonna start smelling in the vents. Where the hell was this chick all day?
• Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!!! Starbuck’s a jihadi mole?!?!? We’re supposed to believe she’s been laying low and dodging hicks from the sticks all day like a kicked puppy and now she’s a badass terrorist insider?!?!?!?

Thoughts: Another really solid episode with good tension until the very end when you can just tell that the writers stopped trying to shoehorn in song references to amuse themselves and tried to address the fact that Starbuck has been a total annoying doormat all day long. It just doesn’t make any sense and the desperate changeup was really noticeable and means that CTU’s screening has to be even worse than initially thought.

Hardcores: Jack, Chloe, Evil Starbuck.

Little Bitches: Red Shirts, minions, NSA dweebs, Milton Yahoo, common sense.

Up Next: Judging from the lightness of the sky, it looks like they previewed the next few hours where we’re going to be playing “Find the Dirty Bomb,” the new show on the Game Show Channel.

Episodes Score: 8/10 – I was gonna give it a 9, but the Derka Starbuck twist was just too stupid.

JBBC: Jack finally pops another pair, so he’s up to 10.

"24 S8.12" Recap - “Banks, Cranks, and Automobombs”

24 S8.12 – “Banks, Cranks, and Automobombs”

• Things come roaring out of the box with a continuation of last week’s tight finish as Zaboo and Fajita escape the hotel because the local flatfoot SWAT team doesn’t listen to Jack. DAMMIT!!!
• In a bank vault, a Kreplochistan flag is hanging. Dante calls someone who’s waiting for the nuke rods, keeping busy by building a Heathkit.
• Aw, crap…Marvin Yahoo has shown up at CTU, thus dragging the show back to its worst storyline of the season. [Banging head on desk.] Starbuck lies and makes herself sound lamer than she really is, if that’s possible.
• Jack goes to the UN and wonders what Regis is hiding?
• Zaboo drags Fajita to Dante and then looks unhappy that his boo is being tied up for propaganda purposes. Ya think?!? Will love conquer jihad? (With 12 more hours to go, doubtful.)
• Danta puts Fajita on JihadTube demanding that Regis give him File 33, which I’m guessing is the secret ingredients in Jamba Juice.
• Oh, it’s not; it’s top secret intel about where our defenses are weak…clipped from articles in the New York Times.
• Zaboo is getting all whining with Dante. ”She wasn’t supposed to get hurt.” Wah wah wah.
• Oh, FRAK!!! Marvin Yahoo is back, knowing just about every secret Starbuck has. Who the hell is this guy. BTW, there is no such thing as a “100-gig thumb drive.” Gah!!
• Starbuck calls Damp Boi and says she’s gonna hand the evidence over. WTF doesn’t she just cap this guy? Yeah, the glass walls are a problem, but…
• Zaboo punks out on the jihad and rabbits with Fajita. Of course, Mr. Head of Security gets out of the car to fight a Red Shirt and then gets capped by Dante. (Little. Bitch.) Fajita drives off, plowing into parked cars like a typical woman driver. (j/k, ladies)
• Jack and Damp Boi find the bank empty. Whoops, Zaboo is still alive. There’s gotta be a bomb in Fajita’s wheels.
• Yeppers!!! She delivers the bomb – oooh, it’s an EMP; there go the iPods (and all the security videos that Starbuck was gonna hand over) – and now CTU is blind. Tick-tock!!!

Thoughts: With the obvious exception of the festering Lifetime Starbuck garbage, this is the first HOUR of 24 this season that’s felt like vintage stuff. There were several tense gut-tightening moments including the ending. Clever use of an EMP instead of a plain old incendiary bomb, but how did they know she’d be arriving within a few moments of it going off? She could’ve taken down Times Square instead.

Hardcores: No one, really. Even Jack was mostly driving around town being smarter than everyone else.

Little Bitches: Fajita, Starbuck, CTU.

Up Next: Jeez, Marvin Yahoo is still barking for the video and they’re trying to make it look like Jack’s gonna die. Yeah, right. What are they going to do with the next 11 hours if they do that? Anyone remember that there were a bunch of Russians as major players a few hours ago and where did Agent Red disappear off to?

Episodes Score: 8.5/10.

JBBC: Still 8. Booooo!!!

"The Crazies" Review

People in a rural Iowa town - as opposed to a bustling Iowa metropolis - are going crazy and Sheriff Timothy Oliphant and his doctor wife Radha Mitchell try to find out why and then run for their lives from the crazies and the military sent to contain them in The Crazies, a remake of a forgotten Seventies George A. Romero film.

Too many logical gaps undercut the tension - the government has satellite tracking of people on foot but can't find their lost plane filled with McGuffanium; after they exterminate a mass of refugees, how did a couple of crazies get left standing around? - and the conclusion simply couldn't happen in modern times without anyone knowing about it.

As lame as The Crazies is (are?), it's not so much a bad movie as one that never really gets into gear with any momentum or genuine shocks. Too bad.

Score: 3/10. Catch it on cable.

"(Tim Burton's) Alice In Wonderland" Review

Tim Burton has had a spotty track record for the past decade as his remakes, er, "re-imaginings" of old movies like Planet of the Apes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were artistic stiffs and original stories like Big Fish or his adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's atonal Sweeney Todd didn't light up the box office like his Batman movies did. When it was announced that Alice in Wonderland was going to get the Burton treatment with his trusty sidekick, Johnny Depp, playing the Mad Hatter expectations were high and for the most part AIW meets them.

Mia Wasikowska (pronounced "Mia Wasikowska") plays the grown-up Alice who again tumbles down the rabbit hole and ends up in the Matrix, er, Underland (as the locals call it) where she re-meets all the familiar characters again for the first time. See, she doesn't remember her visit as a little girl and thus has to rediscover her special purpose.

The tone is much darker than the original Disney cartoon but appropriate to the ruin the evil Red Queen has wreaked upon the land with her pet Jabberwocky, though those looking for the old colorful frolic may be disappointed. The cast is uniformly solid and Wasikowska reminiscent of a younger Gwyneth Paltrow if she was less tubucular and you didn't want to punch her in the face half the time. Depp is Depp though I'm getting a little tired of his mannered madness; it's starting to show seams like Robin Williams when he wore out his welcome. Danny Elfman's score is the usual orchestral circus music he can write in his sleep; all bombast but no memorable melodies.

The 3D effects are OK, but no match for Avatar's revolutionary FX, and hardly needed to sell the detailed look of Burton's milieu. If there is a problem with the film it's that the script leave Alice too passive for too long before she finally accepts her destiny and puts on her hot armor to slay the Jabberwocky. (Not a spoiler; you think she was gonna die?) There is one shot in the battle which is simply brilliant - it's in slow-motion and has the coolest hero pose I've seen outside of a comic book; you'll know it when you see it.

Score: 8/10. Catch a 3D matinee or buy the Blu-ray.

While I liked it more than I expected, my girlfriend LURVED it, so there's another viewpoint.

"From Paris With Love" Review

The trailers for From Paris With Love, the follow-up to director Pierre Morel's bad-ass Liam Neeson revenge flick Taken promised a wild and crazy (and bald) John Travolta cutting a swath of mayhem across Paris while being chaperoned by low-level embassy lackey Jonathan Rhys Meyers - sort of The Odd Couple meets a John Woo movie. While there are moments, it ultimately falls flat like a disturbed souffle.

The basic problem with FPWL is that the story by Luc Besson is wafer thin and not particularly engaging. In Taken, we had Liam Neeson's driven father killing everyone that stood between him and his daughter - an understandable motivation - but here we follow Travolta's hitter and Meyer's freaked-out sidekick from one underworld location to the next without knowing where we're going and what's really happening. It's as if the makers hoped that Travolta's splashy performances - he hasn't been this manic since he was Nicolas Cage in Face/Off - and clockwork gunfights would keep us awake. It doesn't and that's a shame; it looked like dumb fun.

Score: 5/10 - Catch it on cable.

It's also kind of cheap looking; when an explosives-laden Volvo is popped with a bazooka, the resulting blast is inexcusable puny - most TV shows do much, much better, like on Desperate Housewives.

"$9.99" Review

If you're looking at the title and wondering what the fourth film in 2008 with a "nine" in its title - along with District 9, Nine, and 9 - is about, join the club. Tipped off about it by my girlfriend, $9.99 is an odd Israeli clay-animated movie which starts with an arch cold-opener about the pros and cons of dealing with armed panhandlers and then gets weird.

Done somewhat in the style of Robot Chicken (if they had a budget and some pretensions), the story intercuts between the various residents of an apartment building as they find and lose love, hope, or simply seek a Soccer Jack doll or the Meaning of Life. (Yeah, that tells you a lot.) Only 75 minutes long, it reminded my of the animation short festivals I used to attend at the Detroit Film Theater long ago, and perhaps mercilessly abbreviated to 20 minutes it would've worked better. At this length it tends to drone on and the punchline(s) aren't enough to merit a feature's length.

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable if you're into weird animation.

"24 S8.11" Recap – “Rocking Under Pressure”

24 S8.11 – “Rocking Under Pressure”

• Things start off with an impending bang as Jack needs to get Muhammad Blue-Eyes out of the Jacko Box. They decide to bring his gringo mom in.
• Damp Boi and Lifetime Starbuck are all tense and stuff in the elevator. Does Freddie Prinze Jr. know that The Sopranos isn’t on anymore and that he can’t use this as an audition tape?
• Bubba chews them out just like every black cop show captain ever.
• Dante’s lackeys are monitoring the hospital feeds, too.
• Starbuck now reports to Chloe who shows that she’s got the empathy skills of a barbed wire-wrapped cinder block. Drone Boy tries to move in.
• Jack tries to charm MBE out of the chamber, but he’s all jihad. How is it that the air controls are in the chamber other than to have them in a realistic spot would mean Jack could shut the air off, knock out MBE and then take him at his leisure? The writers are hoping no one will notice this gap.
• Zaboo and Fajita are all naked and sweaty indicating that these two can’t figure out how to work the room’s thermostat properly. Try turning it to the left, kids.
• Slumdog Regis and the missus are reunited and it doesn’t feel so good. Gee, a few hours ago he was rounding up everyone for torture and now you’re feeling remorseful? It’s like having Chinese food as a moral center.
• Damp Boi picks up Gringo Mom and she’s all like, “He must’ve fallen in with a bad element.” Ya think?!?
• Just as Starbuck starts trying to crawl out of the hole she’s dug, another Yahoo from back home calls and she, of course, agrees to take the meeting. She calls Damp Boi and the lame dial gets twisted back to the right. Yay.
• Well, it’s about fraking time!!! The whole segment with MBE and mom and then Jack threatening to take her to the blast site was the first time in this entire season that felt like vintage 24. INTENSE!
• Closing segment with Fajita learning that Zaboo and then being a bad liar also didn’t suck.

Thoughts: After 10 hours and 40 minutes of lameness, 24 has finally shown a spark that almost made me forget that the Hillbilly Starbuck plot is going to drag on. More tension, less lameness, please.

Hardcores: Jack for talking MBE out of the chamber as hardcore has he could without bashing the door down with his dick.

Little Bitches: Muhammad Blue-Eyes (RIP); Starbuck.

Up Next: WTF is with the preview giving away the times of plot beats and announcing that there will be a twist?!?!? ARGH!!!

Episodes Score: 8/10. (That one segment: 9.5/10)

JBBC: While it’s tempting to give Jack a point for that hardcore staredown scene, he remains holding at 8.

The 2010 Oscars Livesnark Post

* A lot of bad makeup on the ladies. Sandra Bullock has this clownish pink lipstick; Secretariat Jessica Parker has a drugstore spray tan; a lot of humidity-frizzed hair.

* Interesting floor layout.

* Cute opening number from Dr. Horrible.

* Steve Martin about Meryl Streep, "Can that woman act and what's up with all the Hitler memorabilia?"

* Good opener with Steve and Alec. A-

* I like the color of Penelope Cruz's dress, but not the style.

* I like how they're showing a montage of clips from the nominated performances instead of one snip. Very cool. Hope they keep this for future shows.

* Cristophe Waltz wins and gives an odd speech, but beats the timer.

* Pixar wins for Best Animated Feature. Well, I'm out of the Oscar pool. Never saw this coming.

* Miley looks like she forgot to put her top on.

* "Hi, I'm Chris Pine. I was in the big sci-fi hit that wasn't nominated to introduce one that did."

* Is Robert Downey Jr. wearing sneakers? Funny routine with Tina Fey.

* Molly Ringwald looks weird. What's with those bangles? Good John Hughes tribute. I was thinking it'd be cool to get some other cast members out there and they did it. I think it'd be cool if they had a bunch of ninja babes come out for a pillow fight.

* Carie Education's earrings are atrocious. Both hers and Zoe Saldana's dresses are terrible. Are all the gay men in Hollywood on strike?

* I look at the Logorama clip and wonder how they cleared the usage of all of those. Funny acceptance speech.

* What the hell was that woman cutting off the Music by Prudence acceptance speech about? I thought someone just crashed the stage. Rude and stupid.

* Well, that whole segment was a momentum killer.

* Ben Stiller's bit straddled the link between clever and stupid a little too shakily.

* I have no fraking idea why A Serious Man is here other than the Coens are the current holders of the totem which grants automatic nomination to anything they make regardless of quality. (Previous holder: Woody Allen.) I turned this thing off after 20 minutes and there wasn't a frame of the nom montage than makes me think I was hasty in my decision.

* Precious' Best Adapted Screenplay award was a surprise, wasn't it? But what's the deal with writers sucking at their speeches? Great save by Steve Martin.

* Mo'nique wins for Precious, thus wrecking my Oscar pool even more. Nice dress and flower in her hair.

* The only one of the Best Pics I haven't seen yet - other than A Serious Man, which I shut off - is An Education which I got about a half-hour into before I had to do something else. I want to get back to it.

* Gawd, Suzy Amis looks bad; too skinny. Is Cameron draining her life force or something.

* "Clothes whores." Heh.

* They should really more of the costume nominees. Classy, funny speech. Nice dress. What was her name again?

* WTF is Charlize Theron wearing?

* Funny Paranormal Activity spoof.

* What's with the stairs that the women are needing a spotter to get down them?

* Hurt Locker wins Sound Editing and Mixing - an omen for Best Picture? Looks that way.

* Bullock's dress is great, but her hair and makeup are lame.

* Avatar wins Cinematography; odd considering there was so little actual filming with real cameras of real things.

* What's with all the dresses having bandage tops and Muppet-like froo-froo bottoms?

* The People Who Died Roll Call: Karl Malden wins the clap-off.

* The don't have time to do even bits of the Best Song nominees, but they can do a huge dance number for Score? Poppin' and lockin' for the Hurt Locker? Yeesh.

* Question: What was Mo'Nique referring to when she said "it's the performance, not the politics"? Something happen?

* Michael Giacchino is the new John Williams. Very versatile.

* Jeez, Suzy Amis looks like Clint Eastwood. Meanwhile, right in front of her and Cameron is the ex-Mrs. JC, the damn hawt Kathryn Bigelow. She's 58? Hubba-hubba.

* Stop and ponder this: Academy Award winner Fisher Stevens. (Yeah, me too.)

* Hurt Locker wins Editing. More mo? Looks so.

* Couldn't Tarantino find a jacket that fit?

* Aw, crap; they've brought back last year's terrible "tribute" presentation of the acting nominees. Just awful. SHOW CLIPS and blow less smoke up their arses, please. Ugh. I guess Sam Rockwell is lucky to not have endure this.

* Jeff Bridges started off good, then wandered off into Dude-ville and not in a good way. Good for him to finally get some bling.

* What was Sean Penn babbling about? Must be quite a struggle to keep his Tourette's in check.

* Bullock picked up her Razzie last night in person and now has an Oscar. Busy weekend! Super-classy speech and funny. They love her in this town.

* Babs comes out to marginalize the black and female director nominees as tokens. Jason Reitman looks like Dave Grohl.

* Bigelow is better looking than some of the movie stars here tonight.

* The little movie about bomb disposal wins over the Biggest Movie of All-Time, thus continuing the Oscars need to punish the films that keep the lights on in favor of little flicks that scratch their artiste itch.

* Watching Mo'Nique kill in the backstage press conference on E! now. Very funny and pays tribute to Hattie McDaniel. She's taken over the order of questions.

Overall, a decent show, but not very exciting other than watching Avatar lose technical awards you'd think would be a lock. Steve and Alec were funny, but underused. Hurt Locker was OK, but too sloppy in its accuracy and lacked an arc. If I had a ballot, I would've voted for District 9 for Best Picture because it had the most things right that even Avatar and Hurt Locker didn't. Of course, this is because (500) Days of Summer didn't get squat. Screw the Academy.

"Hot Tub Time Machine" Review

While it's being touted as this year's version of The Hangover a raunchy R-rated comedy - Hot Tub Time Machine (AWESOME title) doesn't quite hit that film's sublime heights, but even if it isn't as good, it's still pretty damn good. And funny.

The concept is simple: Three friends and a nephew - John Cusack, Craig Robinson (Knocked Up, Zach & Miri Make A Porno), Rob Corddry (The Daily Show), and Clark Duke (Sex Drive, Greek) go on a ski getaway to a town and resort they frequented as young men. They arrive to find the town and resort run down and little fun to be had until the titular gizmo tosses them back to 1986 to a seminal weekend in their lives. Fearing ruining the time-space continuum and screwing up the future - a la A Sound of Thunder - they attempt to relive every miserable moment and resist the urge to do things differently. (Do they? What do you think?)

Well-written and played HTTM is solidly hilarious for the first half, only slowing down as they try to give the guys their "character moments." What made The Hangover so great was that film's wise decision to not try and redeem any of these bozos, opting to keep the hammer down on the crazy accelerator pedal. While HTTM is a little softer, it never gets flaccid and always bounces back to deliver some more funny. Not for easily-offended killjoys; it's gloriously profane and raunchy, though for all the drinking, drug use and nudity (not enough IMO) depicted, I don't recall anyone smoking a cigarette, so pervasive is that taboo. Lame.

One quibble: It's unclear when the movie is set in the beginning. Duke's character is 20 and 2006 is shown in one shot, but they have iPhones which weren't introduced until 2007 and the movie ends in 2010 in a *SPOILER* world ruled by cats. *END SPOILER* (Note: Spoiler isn't.)

Score: 8/10. Catch a matinee. (Movie opens March 26.)

P.S. Keep an ear out for a great Better Off Dead reference when they're on the ski slopes. About a quarter of my audience reacted. Heh.

"A Serious Man" Sorta Review

F*ck the Coen Brothers. Seriously. F*ck them in their stupid ears. After the obscenely overrated - Best Picture, my ass! - No Country For Old Men, they followed up with the mildly amusing Burn After Reading, but now have completed their journey back up their excretory tracts with the insufferable A Serious Man.

How terrible is this movie?

I turned it off after 20 minutes and the last 7 of those were spent with my girlfriend shouting, "I'm calling Amnesty International and telling them you're waterboarding me!", in the background. (Note: Slight exaggeration.)

With the Academy Award field expanded to 10 Best Picture slots, the outrage isn't that The Blind Side got in, but that the Coens' inheriting of Woody Allen's "Automatic Nomination For Whatever The Bearer Pinches Off In The Previous Calendar Year" card got this steamer nommed over (500) Days of Summer or, heck, All About Steve.

The fact that 87% of Rotten Tomatoes critics praised it indicates herdthink and synchronized chin-stroking at odds with reality are the rule amongst these supposed arbiters of taste. I haven't seen this much wrongness since Tristam Shandy, a horror of a film that was in the mid-90s and that I refused to review for the site I was working for at the time because it was bad enough I had to watch the damn thing once, much less write about it.

The horror...the...horror.......

Score: F*CK THE COEN BROTHERS/10! Go watch Fargo or anything they made before that again.

UPDATE: A reader writes, "A funny review... but you never said what was wrong with the movie."

I didn't go into the plot because after 20 minutes, there was absolutely no hint of what the plot was. As an aspiring screenwriter, the lesson of "always grab the reader in the first 10 pages (if not sooner)" is constantly hammered upon, but when you're reached the Untouchable status of the Coens, it appears the rules don't apply and woe to the viewer who expects anything resembling coherence or the least bit of respect from the filmmakers as they jerk off self-indulgently.

Here's what I made it through:

  • The cold opener has an apparently Polish Jewish couple in an indeterminate time (perhaps late 19th Century) being visited by an old man who may or may not be a zombie.
  • We then cut to a teenager in Hebrew school listening to a transistor radio in class. The teacher confiscates it and the kid has to go to the principal's office. He had money stashed in the case and it's lost.
  • The kid's father is a teacher or professor and a Chinese student comes to his office to complain about failing a test and leaves an envelope full of money.
  • We get to the family home and a daughter is complaining about an uncle hogging up the bathroom and her mother tells her (and us) that he needs to drain his sebaceous cyst.
  • Dad gets home and complains about his neighbor mowing part of his yard.

20 minutes. (I timed it.) A third of an hour of oddball Hebrew piffle that comes off as the Coens having a joke at everyone's expense. The reviews called it a "black comedy" but for that to be true would require something resembling , oh you know, HUMOR, and there isn't anything but lame weirdness. (The War of the Roses; now that's a black comedy.) Imagine the most self-indulgent navel-gazing moments of David Lynch and Jim Jarmusch and then multiply them by a factor of suck and you're approaching the teeth-gnashing awfulness of this movie.

We tried, we really did try to watch it. It's just that bad and it's not like I'm getting paid to suffer it. I wonder if the critics are praising it in order to lure unsuspecting chumps in to suffer too?

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" Review

Director Wes Anderson is known for arch and quirky films like Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, and The Darjeeling Limited so that he had crossed over into animation with his adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox caught me by surprise; I'd heard he was involved but figured he was just producing like Tim Burton frequently does.

Boasting a voice cast led by George Clooney and Meryl Streep and staffed with Anderson rep company types like Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray, FMF is a cute old school-styled stop-motion animated film which looks like it's for the kids, but is much to sophisticated in its execution. That's not to say it's raunchy, but that its humor will sail waaaaaaaay over the heads of the rugrats as we watch Clooney's titular fox trying to square his quiet family life with his basic instincts to rob the local farmers warehouses.

If you're familiar with Anderson's symmetrical shot compositions, you'll smile at the tableaus he stages which make everything look 2D. The voice cast is funny and there's enough goofball humor to be found for those who can ride Anderson's wavelength. It's hard to explain what makes it neat - I'm failing in my critical responsibilities! - but I liked it. Might be just me though.

Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable.

"24 S8.10" Recap – “You Brought A Bomb On Me, Baby”

24 S8.10 – “You Brought A Bomb On Me, Baby”

• We start off tonight’s festivities with our other happy couple, Fajita and Zaboo. He has a plan to escape and they’ll be together.
• Back to Starbuck and Damp Boi and….oh, f*ck the both of them.
• Bubba calls Prez Cherry and tells her that Schwartzman is surrendering and then mysteriously grows a pair to tell the-lackey-as-yet-unnamed that Agent Red’s getting a pass.
• Jack has Red Shirts named Kane and Lynch with him? What’s with the Supernatural-grade alias? Who are next, Mario and Luigi?
• Prez asks Regis for this secret files. His hair seems to be wilting a bit.
• Zaboo escapes and all I can think is that the city skyline was probably composited in post.
• Schwartzman forgets to stay under cover and gets capped. Dante is waiting at the Infidel Diner for shooter to arrive.
• Prez gets the bad news about bomb yields via Cisco Product Placement teleconference. They actually had to mention the product name; the logo wouldn’t suffice?
• Fajita and Zaboo reunite at a very conveniently located hotel. They are so happy. (He’s dead.)
• Schwartzman is dead, Jim, but Jack’s got a plan. Bubba thinks the plan is non-standard. Dude, Jack isn’t asking to saw the head off and put it in a bowling bag, so chillax.
• Everyone else is able to do so much in a few minutes and Starbuck and DB can’t dispose of a couple of bodies in 20 minutes? FAIL!
• Dante is unhappy as Fox News reports that Schwartzman is alive. (Keith Olbermann demands to go on MSNBC immediately to denounce Fox for broadcasting misinformation.) Muhammad Blue-Eyes calls his gringo mother and tells her to blow town before they blow the town.
• Jack’s reassures the scared Red Shirt. He is so dead. (Red Shirt, that is.)
• They’re evacuating the UN for a secure location. I suggest Scores since no one goes there anymore.
• MBE has set us up the bomb.
• WTF is with Red calling Jack and being all Basil Exposition as if anyone’s tuning in just now to the show? That is so really hacky writing.
• OK, Dead Meat just showed us why his nickname of “Mr. Poker” was ironic. Jack tries to buck him up, but he gets a hit on his Little Bitch cards. Lame.
• Regis calls Mrs. Regis to tell her about Fajita running off.
• Mr. Poker tries to call MBE’s bluff. Yup, he’s got a bomb. Now what, kid?
• OK, that was stupid. MBE jumps out the window and Jack doesn’t shoot him in the legs to keep him from running, OK, hobbling off and locking himself in the Michael Jackson Memorial Pressure Chamber.
• Dante tells MBE he needs to blow himself up real good. Wouldn’t it be wacky if the blast was contained inside the chamber? Jack should drag his mama down for leverage.

Thoughts: Some moments of tension, but really, where is this all going? They’ll probably wrap this threat up in a few hours and then what?

Hardcores: Chloe for defusing bombs under pressure.

Little Bitches: Schwartzman (RIP); Starbuck; Mr. Poker; Damp Boi; oh, screw it, everyone but Jack.

Up Next: Jack drags Muhammad Blue-Eyes’ mama down for leverage and – oh, goodie – Buford’s daddy is coming to town looking for sonny. Oh crap, we’re gonna have to follow this BS plotline some more?

Episode Score: 5/10.

JBBC: Jack fails to bust any caps, leaving the tally at 8
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