Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Thoughts about the Watchmen movie

March 7, 2009

watchmenI enjoyed “Watchmen” and had a fun opening night experience with my wife, my friends, and the crowd. I give the movie a good solid “B” grade. I wish I had seen it in IMAX (I have severe IMAX-envy).

I was not surprised, but still found the “Co-Created by Dave Gibbons” caption on the screen to be rather ridiculous. I plan to spend a few days spelunking on-line to read both Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comments about the movie and Moore’s decision to distance himself from the resulting film.

I loved the Bob Dylan ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ sequence.

My favorite facet of the movie was, by far, Jackie Earle Haley. Haley was absolutely fantastic as Rorschach and he was even more stellar when the mask came off and he portrayed Rorschach’s “real” identity, Walter Kovacs. I don’t know that I’ve seen Haley in anything since the “Bad News Bears” movies and “Breaking Away” in the 1970s. He was brilliant. I have not seen Haley’s Oscar Nominated performance in “Little Children” – but after seeing him in “Watchmen” I will definitely be renting it soon.

Patrick Wilson was well cast as Night Owl II/Dan Dreiberg. Matthew Goode as Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt did absolutely nothing for me. It was nice to see Matt Frewer again.

The gratuitous violence was exquisitely and wonderfully rendered – Certainly earning the movie a well-deserved R rating for violence. In my opinion, the recent “The Dark Knight” should have also received an R rating for violence, and “Watchmen” certainly raised the ante. Director Zack Snyder’s preceding “300” movie was a palette of violence and mayhem, here in “Watchmen” Snyder did a very good job of using over-the-top violence for actual story narrative.

I really love a lot of the songs in the movie, but most felt a bit too much/out of place. Also – how many times in my life will I have to hear ‘All Along the Watchtower’ while also seeing helicopters? STOP already!

The makeup to make people look old was poorly done and rather distracting.

The only thing more embarrassing than male audience members in the theater making comments EVERY time Dr. Manhattan’s penis appeared on-screen was Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and the accompanying “sex scene”

The movie dragged quite often and had too many epilogues.

Where was the squid?!

I enjoyed “Watchmen” and will certainly watch it again with the DVD release – the movie has plenty of meat to chew over a second time.


The Best Christmas Movies Ever

December 11, 2008
My family is culturally Jewish. I’m not an organized religion kind of guy.

I am a huge film geek. I love holidays, and I really love holiday movies!

Here are my top eight Christmas movies, in order:

  1. Brazil – Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece! This is, by far, my favorite Christmas movie ever!!!
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life – I love Jimmy Stewart and, surprisingly enough, the ultra-saccharine story really works for me! Lionel Barrymore makes the perfect evil Mr. Potter!
  3. A Christmas Story – Ralphie wants that BB gun!
  4. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Best X-Mas mood movie ever! Yeah, yeah, this is about “The TRUE meaning of Christmas” – blah, blah, blah – I pretty much tune out for the Linus soliloquy…
  5. Meet John Doe – Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, and Frank Capra – individualism, suicide, alienation, political machinations, and redemption make for a great Christmas flick.
  6. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Chuck Jones plus Boris Karloff equals a classic movie
  7. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Hermey the dentist-wannabe-be elf, The Island of Misfit Toys, Bumbles Bounce… C’mon, how can you not love this navel gazer?
  8. Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Steve Martin and John Candy are brilliant. Ok, so this movie is actually about Thanksgiving. But I love it so much that I’m going to list it here. My list, my rules…

I also really like, but don’t hold them in the same esteem as the top eight:

  • Nightmare Before Christmas – I’m just not Goth enough to love this.
  • Scrooged – Bill Murray’s second best Holiday movie (after Groundhog Day)
  • Christmas in Connecticut – Barbara Stanwyck seems to play a sassy reporter/journalist in myriad films. This time she plays one in a goofy, sweet x-mas flick
  • The Shop Around the Corner – A Jimmy Stewart classic.
  • Remember the Night – I’m also a sucker for early Fred MacMurray films.
  • The Year Without A Santa Claus – Heat Miser and Snow Miser are two of my favorite characters ever.
  • Bad Santa – just funny
  • Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas – This is the Muppet movie to watch for Christmas. Ignore the Muppet Christmas Carol and the other bunch of Muppet X-Mas films.

Some movies may not initially seem to be Christmas movies to the untrained eye. These are indeed Christmas movies, and I really like ’em. If you want me to explain the X-Mas connection, I’ll be happy to:

  • Castaway – The movie is set as a Christmas movie for the first 20 or so minutes, then our man Tom Hanks goes down with the plane. Watch the entire movie thinking about how the entire movie relates to Christmas. Good stuff!!
  • Die Hard and Die Hard II – Bruce Willis as John McClane kicking ass on X-Mas.
  • Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and Monty Python’s The Life of Brian – Yes indeed, Terry Gilliam loves to make movies about religion (and Christmas) – and I love to watch them…
  • Night of the Hunter – Charles Laughton should have directed more movies – Night of the Hunter is one of a whole bunch of great movies that come to my mind as Christmas movies. Usually because of very memorable Christmas scenes or how Christmas relates to the theme, setting, or plot of the film.
  • Others include Stalag 17, Rushmore, Raising Arizona, Rocky, The President’s Analyst, One Hour Photo, Ordinary People, Kramer vs. Kramer, L.A. Confidential, Goodfellas, Catch Me If You Can, The Apartment, and lots of others. I love talking and talking and talking about movies, so I’m happy to chat about specific scenes etc…

Ok, if you haven’t seen a movie listed above, I implore you to watch it this holiday season!!!

I want to mention a bunch that I don’t like:

  • Jingle All the Way – Governor Schwarzenegger’s crappy Christmas movie – yet another waste of Phil Hartman’s talent. Also, Sinbad was in this, and Sinbad’s name on a movie is a sure sign of crap. I defy you to name a good Sinbad movie.
  • A Christmas Carol – I am sick of every single version except for Bill Murray’s Scrooged. Maybe a couple of others are tolerable, such as Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, but the story is so threadbare and worn.
  • Miracle on 34th Street – Way too cloying.
  • Home Alone and all of the Home Alone movies – Yuck.
  • The Bishop’s Wife – this is supposed to be a classic, but I’ve attempted to watch it at least half a dozen times before dozing off somewhere in the middle.
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Chevy Chase makes it harder and harder and harder for me to enjoy his past successes. Randy Quaid is worth watching as usual.
  • Frosty the Snowman – this animated mess leaves me cold.
  • The Grinch – An unwatchable Jim Carrey remake of the animated classic.
  • Reindeer Games – Ben Affleck is just a terrible actor.
  • Robo-Cop 3 – Frank Miller’s (and my) most painful Christmas experience.

Thunderhead Underground Falls – New Reviews

July 1, 2007

Thunderhead Underground Falls

Joel Orff’s Thunderhead Underground Falls graphic novel just hit stores, and is now starting to get reviewed:

Joel Orff’s latest graphic novel packs an emotional wallop that hits like a thunderbolt, a fact belied by the delicately rendered, highly abstracted art and the light touch with which Orff tells his sharply observed story…
[full review]
Las Vegas Weekly, June 28, 2007

…Thunderhead Underground Falls is an extraordinary graphic novel that brilliantly shows the spirit of young love that a couple feels in the face of impending life events…
[full review]
—Silver Bullet Comics, June 27, 2007

Joel Orff’s work has a rich, lovely quality that makes it difficult for me to make a rigorous appraisal of its overall worth…
[full review]
—The Comics Reporter, June 26, 2007

What a thoroughly beautiful book…
[full review]
—Optical Sloth, June 20, 2007