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Monday, Dec 20, 2010
All of Tron: Legacy's problems are conceptual - from why make a sequel in the first place to the particular rules of this program parallel universe.

It’s only been a few days and I still quite can’t get over it. The feeling lingers, like a dull ache in the base of your Achilles’ tendon.  It’s the sensation that comes with being conned, with having wasted your time and analytical acumen on something subpar and unimportant. While dork domain can clamor all they want to about the return of Flynn and those still lame light cycles (not really practical from a travel or combat perspective, when you come to think of it), I am still reeling from my experience with Tron: Legacy struggling to put it and it’s almost incomprehensible nonsense narrative into (1000 plus) words.


What we have here is a clear case of film as Fernando - i.e., a movie that believes it is better to look good than to be good. As a given, eye candy is aesthetically delicious. Taken a step further, fantastic eye candy can get you past even the most puzzling, Matrix-inspired mediocrity. Unlike, say, George Lucas, who takes an unrealistic and unscientific digital dump all over everything the minute he makes a Star Wars something-or-other (really, George? A battle over a raging lava field? 10000 story high skyscrapers? Huh?), the work done in support of T:L‘s Grid world is really impressive. Things look right. Things FEEL right. From the plasticine supermodels who act as outfitters to the rave club as Absolute ad, you really can’t fault the fabrication of this fictional space.


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Thursday, Dec 9, 2010
Everyone's idea of a perfect Christmas is vastly different. Some can only see it in shades of pearly white. Others have images flecked with (mostly) green.

Why can’t Hollywood get Kris Kringle right? Why is it up to those playful puppet masters Rankin and Bass to make a believable St. Nick out of a crass Coca-Cola logo? From high concept hokum like The Santa Clause to more bewildering Yuletide yuck like Santa Claus: The Movie, Tinseltown has a terrible time dealing with that annual obese gift giver. Maybe it’s the bountiful (and heart disease capable) belly like a bowlful of jelly. Perhaps it’s the ruddy cheeks and shoddy fashion sense (Who wears all red? Really?). It just might be the regular right of passage aspect to the character, peers and parents eventually ruining the “Friend of the Fictitious” aspect of his personality. Or it could be a combination of incompetence and pro-Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy bias.


Whatever the case, Christmas and its elephantine emblem just can’t catch a real cinematic break. The results are almost always ridiculous, cloying, infantile, simplistic, soaked in an aura of unnecessary folklore, or fudged in such a way that Father Xmas himself - whatever he truly is - would be fearful of looking at his adapted personage in the North Pole’s mirrors. About the closest anyone in the business called show has come to getting Santa Claus “right” is the remarkable 1942 film Miracle on 34th Street, and even then our white bearded wonder had to be declared insane before anyone would jump to his defense. Apparently, a sickly old coot is acceptable in the realm of the mythic mirth maker,


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Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010
by Stephen Langlois
What is it that's so compelling about bad movies? I don't mean the parade of overblown, big-budget, generic pictures Hollywood is constantly forcing upon the world. I'm talking about the movies that come out of left field, that fall through the cracks, that are so bad they're good.

What is it that’s so compelling about bad movies? I don’t mean the parade of overblown, big-budget, generic pictures Hollywood is constantly forcing upon the world. I’m talking about the movies that come out of left field, that fall through the cracks, that are so bad they’re good. The documentary Best Worst Movie takes a look at the hilariously misguided 1990 horror film Troll 2 and the devoted following that has elevated it from obscurity to cult phenomena. For the uninitiated, the plot of Troll 2 concerns plant-eating monsters who turn their human victims into vegetables in order to eat them. It’s a nonsensical premise, poorly executed and even more poorly acted. Yet it’s utterly compelling. Here are some lesser known turkeys, all of which will satisfy the most discerning of bad-movie-lover and may help us understand why we love these types of films so much in the first place. 


 

Deadly Prey (1987)


Like many bad movies, Deadly Prey is a rip-off, pure and simple.  It is the story of a man being hunted for sport is taken wholesale from Richard Connel’s short-story “The Most Dangerous Game” and it’s protagonist Mike Danton—a war vet forced to use the survival skills he learned in Vietnam when kidnapped by a band of mercenaries—is a blonde, blanker though no less chiseled imitation of John Rambo. But there’s something about Deadly Prey that distinguishes it from all the other action flicks that littered the shelves of 1980s video stores.


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Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010
While it's hard to get a handle on whether the movie will attempt to transcend the stereotypical testicle and tuckus approach, a final moment with Yogi getting his hinder bashed by a series of well-placed fence posts seems to suggest otherwise.

I have to apologize in advance. It’s been almost a week since I saw the 3D “sneak preview” for December’s Yogi Bear during a screening of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and my stomach has yet to settle down. The unnerving feeling of nausea, the desire to hurl my guts at the direction of the people behind this proposed cinematic abomination has left me queasy and uneasy. It’s not that I have anything particular against the Hanna-Barbera creation. He’s a nostalgic relic of his time, a breakout figure founded on Huckleberry Hound’s laconic Southern gentility. But when I see sloppy CGI meshed with oddball stunt voice casting, in combination with that oh-so ‘90s patina of irony, I want to barf. Having it thrust into my eyeballs via pseudo stereoscopic means just adds insult to the ipecac.


In many ways, the trailer (now available everywhere, so mind your bile ducts) reminds me of the feeling of doom I experienced when Alvin and the Chipmunks was first announced. The notion of taking a decidedly late ‘50s/early ‘60s creation of Ross “Dave Seville” Bogdasarian Sr. and turning it into a post-modern mockery of the music industry wasn’t so far off base. After all, the original singing rodents were purposefully used to debunk the pop culture currency of artists as diverse as Tom Jones, The Beatles - and in the ‘70s and ‘80s - the Cars and The Ramones. Chipmunk Punk was a huge gimmicky hit, and differing variations on the theme - Chipmunk Country, Chipmunk Rock, Chipmunk Grunge - kept Simon, Alvin, and Theodore on the cusp of commercial awareness (an ‘80s animated TV series also helped keep the harmonious rats relevant).


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Friday, Jul 2, 2010
Today we call them fairytales, exaggerated examples of basic wish fulfillment that play on a reader's (or listeners, or watchers) predetermined level of self-worth and need and then specifically addresses said requirements in an easily understandable way

Would it surprise you to know that it’s all about sex—safe, secure, if still slightly naughty sex? Would it also surprise you that it’s about formula, a fictional blueprint that has been around since Shakespeare solidified tragedy and Heathcliff left Cathy on the wind-swept moors? Would you finally see how, in standard mass media manufactured conformity, it’s nothing more than the Pet Rock with pecs, or Silly Bandz with a little less substance? Or maybe you mistakenly believe that author Stephenie Meyer has create a literary masterwork which demands the kind of feeding frenzy response from women—young and old—that only a timeless treasure can demand.


Whatever the case, the Twilight crazy continues unabated, the latest installment in the cinematic reinterpretation of the series, Eclipse, poised to be one of the biggest films of 2010 (it made $30 million at midnight screenings on 30 June—$30 million in one NIGHT! ). With a 4 July weekend worth of box office receipts to count and a still cresting wave of cultural curiosity to draw from, perhaps it’s time we stop hating and try, for once, to figure out the reasons behind the monumental success of this unstoppable juggernaut of junk (... sorry).


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