Monday, July 24, 2006

Old Yeller

Unconditional love. You can only get it in one place. Not from your spouse, mother, dad, grandparent, imaginary or 3-D friends. The only creature that offers that service is a dog. There are cool cats, nice goldfish, slimy snakes but none of them offer what Boris brought to our family.

For my wife, Boris was her best friend before I came along over 12 years ago. He soon became my buddy as well and we've lived happily together for about 10 years. Boris has a terrible case of hip displaysa, and has for years. We've spent as much money as possible to make him comfortable in his golden years. He's repaid us tenfold with love, protection, and a sweet disposition.

It's time for Boris to go to doggie heaven and I can't help feeling so fucking selfish about this. He's in pain and can't do much but I still want to be able to get up and give me his medicine each morning. To see him come limping around the corner for dinner should not be sentimental but it is. It's definitely his time but that doesn't help.

To my wife I'm so sorry for your loss. You were the best, most caring pet owner I've ever seen. It's a motherfucker that dogs and humans have different life spans. Just know that you gave "Bean" the best life a dog could ask for. I've commonly said that if I was reincarnated as a dog, I'd want Boris' life.

Thanks Bean Doggle. You are loved, you are missed, you will be remembered.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Baby steps

My friends always told me having a baby would change my life. They were right but I couldn't be happier to have my life changed. I have managed to see a chunk of movies now that we are homebound more often. Here are 4 of my recent faves:

Grizzly Man-Bizarre documentary of bear activist Timothy Treadwell who eventually was eaten by his furry friends. Werner Herzog directs and his narration at times is a little corny but serviceable. The Treadwell-shot footage is an interesting look into the mind of the wannabe actor. See it.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang-This movie admittedly tries too hard to fit the Tarantino mold but is pretty good nevertheless. Robert Downey is very good and Val Kilmer is a little less stiff than usual.

Stay-I loved this movie. It ends and you know nothing. Similar to the end of Usual Suspects but in this movie you have no facts. You are forced to relive the movie in your mind to arrive at conclusions.

Enron/The Smartest Guys in the Room-Can this really happen? Tremendous documentary that shows what true scumbags Lay and Skilling really are, in Lay's case "was". Lay, another Bush butt buddy, got off easy. Gotta love that "Mark to Market" bookkeeping.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Friends and the F-word

For fans that are attracted to Jennifer Aniston I have to imagine that it was worth the price of admission to see "Derailed", if only just to hear her say "..I want you to "F" me" on film. For the rest of us it wasn't quite that thrilling.

Here's another movie where you can almost hear the pitch that got this movie made. A married man (Clive Owen) meets an attractive sophisticated woman on a train (Aniston), they both have disconnected marriages and a daughter, they meet again for a drink, they wind up in a hotel, they get started on their affair, a thief breaks in, he pistol whips the family man and rapes the attractive sophisticated woman. The rapist/burglar then blackmails the family man for $120,000 (in 3 installments). Sounds like a great idea but there are several flaws including the lead character having the investigative instincts of the Three Stooges.

Number one, why does the thief never blackmail the woman? Clive Owen's character should've realized that from the start. According to her speech on the train she was far more successful than he and had just as much to lose (her daughter). He never questions her even though he's known her for such a short time. You'd think he'd be a tad more paranoid. He felt guilty for not protecting her against the rapist but anyone with a brain would start asking questions. Also, no father on earth would use money saved for his daughters health care (his daughter would die without it) to bury a case of infidelity.

Lastly, these con artists are dumb. How dumb are they? Once they con the lead out of 120K, they get to work on the next the same town and use the same hotel. Huh?

As my wife said, "any movie I (she) can figure out in the first 10 minutes must suck". In the end Jenifer Aniston did "F me"....out of the 4.00 rental fee.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Uh oh, Peter Jackson is on a winning streak. This means he has free reign to make overblown blockbusters as he sees fit. Don't get me wrong, King Kong is totally eye-candy. In addition he actually tries to tell a story, as evidenced by the fact the Mr. Kong doesn't appear until you are over an hour into the film. I also realized it tough making a (long) film where everyone knows the ending. Nevertheless King Kong was probably not in need of a makeover.

I sincerely think Peter Jackson must print everything he films. At least it seems that way. Action scenes are exhaustingly long and he gets into Lucas' prequel filmmaking masturbation territory at times. There are scenes, like the dinosaur stampede, that are truly eye-rolling moments. The film could've easily been cut to an 1:45 and you would not have missed a thing. I think if Peter Jackson were hired to film a Twilight Zone short he'd turn it into a mini-series somehow.

I'm not expecting Peter Jackson to go back and make Bad Taste II but here's to him returning to a simpler time before unlimited budgets and overblown productions.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Much Ado About Something

Aside from homophobes, I guess I was the last one to see Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain". With a home theater and DVDs selling for cheaper than two movie tickets, I lose inspiration to brave the seat kicking, cell phone ringing, adolescent chit chat that often accompanies the multiplex experience. Unfortunately for movies like Brokeback Mountain I have been listening to hype (and criticism) for months on end. By the time I shove that shiny piece of plastic into my DVD player I have a ton of preconceived notions about what I am about to see.

Even without seeing the movie I was surprised as anyone that after Ang Lee won Best Director the film didn't take home the big prize. I have to admit that most of the directing appeared to be filming in beautiful natural surroundings. In my opinion, the only real bold film making was the up close and in your face filming of the sensual moments. Aside from those unflinching moments it was pretty standard western stuff (like Lee's "Ride With The Devil").

For as long as I can remember I've always had gay friends. Because of that I've always been a supporter of gay rights including god forbid the right to be married. I've never understood the persecution of gay people. Name the top 10 ills of society and show me what gay people have to do with them. If I hear another religious zealot use the phrase "sanctity of marriage" I will go postal. Sanctity? What's the divorce rate in this country? Gay marriage couldn't possibly do any worse than hetero marriages. Gay people are not out to recruit your sons and daughters. They are simply trying to lead a normal human being life. If you let them get married they won't be humping in the streets or cruising junior high schools looking for tail.

So after that diatribe I must have loved the movie, right? After watching the film and rolling it around in my head I've decided it's probably more of an important film than a great film. It's another step to get this issue out in the open and increase dialogue. Anything that puts a crack in the homosexual stereotype has to be a good thing. Heath Ledger's performance is great and was probably Oscar worthy. Jake Gyllenhaal performance was brave but rarely brilliant. The main complaint I hear about this film is that adultery is wrong no matter the circumstances. That opinion is missing the point. These guys wanted to be together but society wouldn't allow it. They were in love before they ever got married. They were forced to keep their love hidden and out of society's watchful eye. In essence society is to blame for their adultery. I'm sure there are thousands of men today in heterosexual relationships who are truly gay. My main complaint was that Jack Twist's (Jake Gyllenhaal) death was extremely anti-climatic. I realize the story is more of Ennis' journey than Jack's but it was a wasted emotional moment. To be honest I cheered more for the relationship in Crying Game than Brokeback Mountain. I just hope that this movie's message is what endures rather than the film itself.

Friday, March 24, 2006

No History Of Love

I really wanted to love this movie for some reason. I'm not a big Cronenberg fan. I guess I liked The Fly and Videodrome but those were 20 years ago. Oh and I liked that head explosion scene in Scanners. I recently watched Videodrome and that flick dated or what? He did direct Crash. Oh shit, not that "Crash". I'm not a huge fan of the Viggo yet I thought he'd be great in this movie. I enjoyed the Rings' movies for what they were. Maybe because someone told me once that he was married to Exene Cervenka years ago. It must be that punk rock cred that endears me. I have to admit that I do like Maria Bello although she was in a much better film called The Cooler in 2003.

The idea for this movie is a good one. A small town coffee shop owner becomes a hero after foiling a robbery/murder at his establishment. He then receives national press coverage and is spotted by folks from his "previous" life. Turns out Tom is really Joey from Philly who left the mob for the simple life. The problem is the characters from his previous life are goofy as hell. It's almost comical. William Hurt's performance as Joey's brother is so over the top and stupid it's embarrassing. Ed Harris is Ed Harris, who's a little more of a gentleman than you'd expect from someone who received the barbed wire to the face treatment. On the plus side Viggo and Maria Bello are good in this flick. Bello is actually great in this film. I thought the movie was going to be darker but you could almost picture Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson starring and Ron Howard directing this movie. It's far from terrible and entertaining in parts, but well below my unwarranted expectations.

For you Cronenberg fans, don't worry he still likes filming the nookie. Viggo and Maria have two, almost uncomfortably long, love scenes. Maybe he missed his calling. He should just do porno and leave the storytelling to someone else.

Monday, March 13, 2006

You wanted the best, you got the best

The "best" movies of all-time...what the hell does that mean? Whenever you read these lists you tend to see movies that are supposed to be there; Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind, etc. I've decided to list the movies, not only great in my opinion, but flicks I can watch over and over and over again. After all that's the best test of a film, right? When art and entertainment collide is when you get pictures like these:

1. Godfather II-Pacino AND DeNiro at the absolute pinnacle of their talents. About as flawless as movies come. I'm a bit like Cartman from South Park when he hears "Sail Away" by Styx when it comes to the Godfather films (sans III). If they are on TV I have to watch until the end.

2. Godfather-I wanted to name my son Brando which might explain how I feel about Marlon, pre-Orca waistline of course (..the horror). The baptism scenes spliced with Michael Corleone's baptism as the new Godfather is absolute filmmaking genius. Always remember: "Leave the gun, take the cannoli."

3. Glengarry Glen Ross-Probably the greatest display of ensemble acting ever put to film. Alec Baldwin should've won an Oscar for his mere 8 minutes of screen time. I personally think this was Jack Lemmon's greatest achievement in film. You know this is a great film when Kevin Spacey turns in the weakest acting performance.

4. Goodfellas-Wow! Scorsese's re-invents, and saves, the mob movie when the bar was set ridiculously high by Coppola and then destroyed by Godfather III (in the same year). Who knew Ray Liotta had that performance in him? This movie's greatness lingered so long it even convinced people that Casino was a great movie.

5. The Big Sleep (1946)-Most folks will say Casablanca, Key Largo or the Maltese Falcon were Bogie's best moments but this is by far my favorite. The plot is complex, the humor is classic, and Lauren Bacall invented sex appeal.

6. The Killers (1946)-Watch this movie and you'll understand why Ava Garnder was the one woman who drove Sinatra crazy. One of the best film noirs of all-time. I've never understood why this film isn't more popular or at least more revered.

7. Annie Hall-This was the first Woody Allen flick I ever saw and I've been waiting ever since for him to approach this classic. The line to Christopher Walken about being "due back on the planet Earth" is classic Allen genius.

8. Shawshank Redemption-I didn't cry this much since I watched Old Yeller as a kid. Morgan Freeman became one of my all with all-time favorites with this performance.

9. Vertigo-The best of Alfred Hitchcock. This film is a total mindf*ck and goes well beyond his usual "everyman in a F'd up situation". Kim Novak is genius and creepy as hell in this flick.

10. The Shining-The one movie I still won't watch by myself at nighttime. Unlike most horror flicks this seems all too possible. A guy with writer's block goes nuts and tries hack his family to death. The sound of the pseudo-Big Wheel going from carpet to hardflooring still gives me the creeps.

11. Malena-A coming of age flick that suddenly turns into a brutal piece of social commentary. Monica Bellucci is perfectly cast as the emotionless Barbie doll who turns young boys into men and her town into Salem. The best Tornatore film to date.

12. Lost In America-Albert Brooks makes the second best Woody Allen movie of all time. I'm a huge fan of all Brooks' pictures but this one is pretty much perfect. The "nest egg" speech at the Hoover Dam is worth the price of the DVD.

13. L.A. Confidential-Great throwback flick that made Russell Crowe a star.

14. What's Up Doc?-This movie reinvigorated the screwball comedy genre. Very funny, very stupid, but very funny. It's interesting to see Babs before she became an extraordinary pompous ass.

15. Usual Suspects-At the end of the film you realize you know nothing. There are dead dudes in the harbor, no drugs, a burned survivor and a whale of a story by Verbal Kint. This movie is so great Stephen Baldwin couldn't even fuck it up. Think about it.

Honorable mention: Pulp Fiction, Arthur, Swingers, Memento, Frailty, The Decline of Western Civilization, 21 Grams, The Machinist, Dead Man Walking, Star Wars, On the Waterfront, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.