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Monday, Apr 4, 2011
Hollywood just keeps putting out the crap... and sadly, people just keep eating it up.

Wanna know why movies suck today? Well, audiences just gave Hollywood $40 million beautiful reasons why. That’s right. Over the 1 April weekend (and we wish it were all a prank), supposedly fed up film fans, lovers of legitimate cinema and smart, satisfying movies, made Hop the number one box office draw. Argue all they may about appeasing their wee ones, or seeing something innocuous and cute this close to Easter. No matter the message or motivation, people sent Tinseltown an important mandate, at least in their eyes. Clearly, they want more of Hop, and less of anything else. Also-openers Insidious and Source Code—two much better movies—opened to a combined total $10 million less than this ridiculous rabbit test.

Taking a step back, for a moment, there is a real rationale for the otherwise unreasonable returns. Parents have long since given up on guiding their children in the proper direction, and instead respond like Pavlov’s pooch whenever something comes along that can silence the brat for a good 80 to 90 minutes. There’s no questioning the content or creativity—if it looks adorable and more or less inoffensive, it’s on everyone’s Saturday shopping agenda. Look at the average suburban DVD shelf and see the proof. If Mom or Dad can con an older kid into gathering up the neighborhood brood, plunking down the reduced priced tickets, and experiencing a bit of offspring-less freedom for a small smattering of the weekend, they will line up in droves/drones. Quality is of little or no concern. Word of mouth is often a legitimate litmus test (right, Mars Needs Moms???), but for the most part, almost anything will suffice.

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Friday, Jan 21, 2011
The ten things I am already tired of in 2011 - and the year is barely a month old.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. If that’s the case, 2011 is already a most hated year. From the sudden studio drop off, another aggravating awards season in the books and banked, to the nonstop flow of publicity for titles too tepid to make it at any other time of the year (“Hey [insert name here], here’s the latest exclusive clip of The Mechanic for you to enjoy - and post to your blog…), it can be grating. But thanks to the Web and its relentless desire to scoop and one-up each other, we are bombarded, almost hourly, with unnecessary information and advertising trivia. Even worse, citizen on the Planet Dweeb mandates that each and every one of these “revelations’ be immediate shared and conjected upon by everyone with a Twitter/Facebook feed.

It’s no surprise then that I am already sick and tired of 2011 - and it’s barely even started. Actually, that’s not a wholly accurate statement. I am fed up with certain circulated stories, the last couple of months making it difficult to play Farmville or follow the latest Courtney Love meltdown without learning that Liam Neeson is reprising his role in the animated Star Wars TV show, or that Disney has yet another Pixar flick coming out in a few months. Such overkill is clearly living up to the second syllable of said sentiment, making me loathe the next 11 months with a special kind of spite. While I am sure I can come up with a dozen more if need be, here are the initial ten patience testers I can’t cope with right now. Of course, as with anything in the nu-media, additional entries are just a truncated 24 hour news cycle away.

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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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