Tag Archives: American cinema

The Watch: Richard Ayoade Needs to be Talked Up

As much as I’m sure some people wanted to see this movie for Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill, there is one man I wanted to see this movie for in particular. And that man was Richard Ayoade. From over the pond, Richard was brought to us as a gift, and should be treated as one. It’s not that often that a truly talented and gifted British

The true star of the film.

comedian graces us with his presence in an American typical absurdist comedy. It’s not to say that the rest of it wasn’t great, but one person stood out. IT Crowd’s lovable Moss. Let’s get it on.

What makes this movie great for me? The fact that it takes place in a fictitious town in my home state of Ohio. In a typical suburban neighborhood like the one I grew up in, Glenview, Ohio gives a true sense of how mundane and fake people can be in a well off town like this one. Where does a character like Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) find excitement from? Creating neighborhood groups and organizations and running. Just as well he would create the local Neighborhood Watch.

Classic slo-mo roll seen with every group of slick bricks.

After a horrendous Predator skinning of his recently hired Latino night guard, Trautwig takes it upon himself to keep the streets safe and find his employee’s murderer. Inspiring justice-like feelings in three men, Trautwig creates a badass group of rollers with great hangout basements. You got Bob Finnerty (Vince Vaughn). He’s the lovable dad and sports fan who wants nothing more than utilize the man cave he created years ago but his wife won’t let him even touch. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is the off the walls juvenile who will do and say anything, at any moment. This movie is where it all started with me. I decided to give Jonah Hill a second chance with all his movies from the past. I love him now.

And last and never least is Richard Ayoade. Everything he’s done for the British comedy circuit on television and otherwise is golden. His

Lookin’ fly with that egg in yo eye, Stiller.

geeky attitude and intelligently witty characters may go unappreciated by the masses, but he hits true to home with me. The I.T. Crowd, his work with The Mighty Boosh, this, and anything else he’s ever made an appearance in. He leaves a memorable place in my heart.

It’s about to get heavy up in this biatch.

The movie got its criticisms for vulgarity and poor plot, but I feel the movie delivered when it had to. The plot wasn’t too complicated so it could focus on the humor, and I got that from the start. Take one part Aliens, and one part small American town dynamic, and you have The Watch. Vince Vaughn almost stole the show (in combination with Jonah Hill) and the vulgarity added to all the angst that someone like me feels in a town where there’s nothing to do and everyone is just too nice. You gotta have the right experiences or this movie doesn’t hold the same amount of weight. Keep that in mind, critics.

Billy Crudup makes the greatest appearance as one of the creepiest neighbors I can think of, and Will Forte is classic

You guys are #1 in my book.

dumbass failure as the cop who didn’t hire Jonah Hill’s character. The movie moves along at the perfect pace but sadly doesn’t give enough funny lines to Richard. Seth Rogen better get off the bong and beer and learn to revise that shizz. But I do hope this movie gives Richard Ayoade other opportunities to shine in American cinema, but he’s just fine where he is in the U.K. So I tip my hat to this film for trying and succeeding to tickle my funny bone. And look forward to a lot of reviews on Jonah Hill films. That dude is gold.

7.8 out of 10.

Advertisements

Romeo Must Die

In what was considered Jet Li’s breakout American performance, I was a bit disappointed. (I personally though Lethal Weapon 4 really showcased a lot more skills…) The plot is just a crude, urban sampling from Romeo and Juliet. There were minimal stunt/fight scenes. Overall it wasn’t as action packed as the cover had led me to think. I guess I should’ve

An awkward couple?

expected half-assed amounts of martial arts from the director of Exit Wounds, Doom, and Street Fighter. Thanks a lot, Andrzej Bartkowiak…

Let’s just examine the plot to get a what bothers me about this movie. Two warring families. You have the Sing family, led by Ch’u Sing (Henry O). Then you have the black family led by Issak O’Day (Delroy Lindo. He’s that intelligent black man you see in a lot of films as a stock character actor. The smart version of Ving Rhames.) O’Day? What kind of last name is that for a black mafia family? And when have black gangs ever organized like the mafia in the first place? Weird…

This is the second time in a film I’ve seen a guy throwing a girl around…

So yes, I get the two warring families with Jet Li and Aaliyah in the middle. They don’t really love each other at first and you never get that onscreen chemistry from them. Never even a kiss. Just a hug. What I find weird is that they shot the kiss scene (that could’ve been placed anywhere in the film) and they chose to cut it out. Racist anyone? The screeners said it was awkward… Hmm…

Anyways, Jet Li is Han Sing, escaped from a high security prison in Hong Kong. He creatively escapes during one of the cooler fight scenes in the film, but how does he escape the country and make it all the way to Oakland? There is a real lack of police interference in this movie… Aaliyah is a beautiful young actress who (after watching this and The Queen of the Damned) really was taken too quickly from the

It’s all about the shades for Wong.

silver screen. She wasn’t like other R&B actresses onscreen who kinda flaunted their sex appeal. She came across as the cute girl next door you could believe and fall in love with. (Not so much in The Queen of the Damned, but just as good in that movie too.)

A beautiful and tragic young actress.

So Jet Li makes it to Oakland to discover something fishy going on with his father’s gang enterprise. His brother Po (Jon Kit Lee) has been murdered and Han Sing is on the case to find out what happened. (He used to be a police officer. Jackie Chan anyone?) The two star crossed lovers meet (if you can call them lovers) and their families war around them. With some betrayal and only the slightest bit of martial arts, this movie comes to its conclusion: happy ending.

But it wasn’t such a good ride to the happy end. Coming from a 2000 film, the ghetto speak was tired and old. If I had watched it when it had came out, I might be saying something different. But all the dawg’s and yo’s really wore on me… especially when the Chinese gangs used that slang, AND if showed up in

Some of that minimal martial arts.

their subtitle translations for some strange reason… I don’t think they have that kind of slang in the Chinese language…

And how racist this film was! It wasn’t just the speech, it was the music. Sure you have an all star cast doing the R&B hits for all the black gang scenes, but when it comes to cutting over to a scene with Jet Li or someone in the Asian gang, classical oriental music. The clangs and bows of what every person in America hears when they go into a Panda Express. There couldn’t be an infusion or anything more original for both gangs? This movie just seemed like a compare and contrast of races. The only crossover was that some black gang members miraculously knew proper Karate/Wushu form for no reason. Fancy that…

Get your head around that…

The acting was fine and I had no major complaints about that. But for some reason, and I don’t know how to put it into words, Anthony Anderson (co-star of some of the Scary Movies… and Kangaroo Jack…) just rubbed me the wrong way. He wasn’t funny, and seeing him get his ass handed to him by Jet Li just seemed satisfying… Overall though, the whole movie put me in a sour mood. I’ve seen better from Jet Li. This movie is one of those Asian/American films that takes the whole action/martial arts thing for granted. It sickened me a little bit. It was just too dated for me. They should’ve changed the title too… Romeo Must Die? More like A Vague Racist Action Movie About Building A Football Dome. There you go, all fixed. 4.3 out of 10.


This Film Is Not Yet Rated: An Opinion

In a different approach that I’ve never done in my blog, I’m going to debate the documentary created by Kirby Dick, This Film is Not Yet Rated. While watching this, a lot of questions and refutes came to mind that I wanted to deal with rather than just reviewing the movie. I gave this film my full attention and open mind, so I’m going to talk back.

This Film is Not Yet Rated deals with the issue of the warped way in which independent and Hollywood films are treated and rated according to the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. of America). With the issues of homosexual vs heterosexual relations, male vs female sexuality, and violence, vs sexual content, Kirby Dick handles this and the board behind which these issues are debated and rated on. It is quite controversial and sexual in nature, with interviews from people all across the movie making business and their thoughts behind why this secretive establishment was ever put into place. And a lot of attacking of Jack Valenti, the man that started it all.

I have to concede a lot of points to Kirby Dick and the creators of this documentary. It is rather disturbing that an organization is given this much power and allowed to be kept secret and confidential on its workings. To not be allowed to know the peers who judge you (as you are in the court of law), is downright un-Democratic. The board that represents “average American parents” is warped and not accurate in the slightest. And any sort of appeals board that is put into place is just ludicrous.

But I think where a lot of the confrontation comes from is the business world. Hollywood and the movie making machine is a business. A lot of business (especially big businesses that make billions of dollars) are run by the elite “conservatives” that wouldn’t look kindly on the liberal views of sexuality and experimentation. With the movie makers butting heads with the owners who rate the films and distribute them, documentaries like this are going to arise that fight the backwards system they’re involved in.

What I didn’t understand is why there’s such a conflict. If the MPAA rates movies as R or NC-17, that restricts the amount of people who can see the film. And by restricting a demographic from seeing a film that may not be so restricted content heavy, that loses money to a particular age group. Why would the big businesses who run the showing of films do such a thing? It seems backward, and could only be because they feel it is necessary to keep the status quo morals. I applauded this film for fighting “the man” and the “big machine”, but there were things I had problems with.

Coming from someone who loves a lot of different films, I have to be honest. I don’t think that, in 90 out of 100 cases, that sex scenes are necessary in film. What do sex scenes do? They reaffirm a “loving” relationship between two people, be it straight, gay, or whatever. It’s for lust, for some form of artistic representation. But how often does it actually move a plot along? Not often. Sexual scenes of any sense that actually further plot are usually scenes of rape or procreation. If someone’s having a baby or having their lives changed by a terrible experience, those are depicted harshly or beautifully. Sex scenes to “seal the deal” come across as eating up screen time to me.

Let me give an example so I just don’t seem prude. I tried to watch a film recently titled, A Room in Rome. I thought, hmmm, I’ll expand my knowledge in films with this liberating and artistic foreign film about lesbians. It started off okay. They had some thought provoking conversations. Then they hit the showers and I was exposed to sex scene after sex scene. At that point, I realized what sex scenes are to me. They are invasions of privacy, voyeuristic looks into someone else’s private time, be it onscreen or not. They, for the most part, bore me and make me feel uncomfortable. And for a film to claim it’s an arthouse film and just show 90 minutes of nonstop sex scenes? That’s a total load of bullshit. Don’t tell me that. That’s not some form of art that I would never understand. “It’s symbolic.” Are you f$%^&ing kidding me? Hell no.

I’m not ashamed to exasperatedly voice my opinion, and it’s about to get worse. Call me a typical dumb male, but I would rather have a scene of violence in a film than a sex scene. It’s more entertaining and adrenaline pumping than two people doin’ it in front of my eyes. And it furthers plot. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott on The Office said it best when he said that what’s more exciting than a gun? What is more exciting and threatening to a character than a gun onscreen? There’s a point to be had there. Martial arts films that depict the grace, discipline, and brutality of fighting really inspire me to be better than myself and protect and defend others. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.

There was one point in the film that made me pretty mad in particular. It was quite a leap and a wrong one. To say that violent films and video games inspire more kids to shoot up schools than anything else is not the truth. It is an access to firearms at a young age. It’s those kids who are mentally unstable, picked on, not listened to, those kids who feel the pressures of the world before they even get out of college. The outcasts, the rejects, those kids nobody would ever dream of talking to or hanging out with. In some particular cases, I’m sure violent acts have been done because of what someone saw on T.V. or in movies. But not a majority or a large portion of the time at all. Marilyn Manson said it best in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine documentary. When asked what he would have said to the two young male shooters to try to dissuade them, he said, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”

This film makes valid points about a world I am not a part of, but would one day like to be a part of. The movie world scares me now after seeing this documentary. How much freedom is taken away when you want people to see what you’ve made and how a movie can be banned or censored is against our rights. But the way that sex is seen as something that should be above anything else (drugs weren’t talked about in this film), I falter in my support. I find that to be assuming too much of an “open-minded” America. For parents to have to talk to children about sex, who wants that conversation? (Daniel Tosh paraphrase from a telling joke about Mormons and gay rights.) As a whole, America is a prude machine that doesn’t want to move from where its standing. I stand among those in the action film/horror movie/all around whatever the hell genre it is community and say, “I don’t need sex in my films.” I know it is backwards to say violence above sex, but aren’t movies fake? Don’t they depict things that, for the most part, are an interpretation/exaggeration of the real world? Sex scenes hit too close to home and come from a person to person basis on what is acceptable sex.

So coming away from this with one thing, you should remember I said this. I don’t find sex to be entertaining or necessary in movies. That’s just me, my opinion. You could think I am absolutely stupid and ignorant for thinking that. That’s your choice to think that. But if my voice has any say in the matter, this is what I think. Plain and simple. Let me know what you think, and, as always, I’ll be writing from The Abyss.

So let’s have a poll, shall we?