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Friday, May 28, 2010


Title: MacGruber

Year of Release: 2010

MPAA Rating: R

Date Viewed: May 21st, 2010

The character of MacGruber (a nod to another famous action hero, MacGyver) first appeared on the small screen as a recurring character on NBC's Saturday Night Live program. His segments were some of the shortest on the program and consisted of him attempting to defuse a bomb that was set to detonate in some interior room at an unknown location. The location never changed and neither did the skit's formula. While MacGruber acts like he knows what he's doing, a sidekick stands by the doorway informing him of how much time is left on the countdown before detonation and the host of the week would distract him with a taunting conversation. Here's the gag, if you want to call it that. MacGruber never succeeds in his mission. The guest host always distracts him long enough so that everyone in the room is blown up by the bomb and the audience laughs, setting up the next segment. But that doesn't stop MacGruber from re-appearing next week or sometimes later in the same episode attempting to stop another bomb in the same exact room.

Now what if I told you that the show's producers decided that the MacGruber sketch deserves a longer treatment, more specifically a feature length treatment? Well, guess what? It's true. The klutzy version of MacGyver has his own movie and represents Saturday Night Live's first attempt in ten years to transfer one of their small screen characters to the big screen.

Now what if I told you that the producers decided not to change anything, simply do a cut-and-paste job to the MacGruber formula, and repeat it enough times so it runs ninety minutes long? Well, guess what? You can breathe a sigh of relief because that is not what happened. Saturday Night Live's reputation for good writing may have taken some hard blows in recent years. However, these writers were smart enough to know that the gimmick needed to be taken into a different direction for it to stand on its feet.

Before MacGruber is re-introduced to the audience, the film introduces its villain with a very unfortunate last name; Dieter Von Cunth, played by Val Kilmer in his first mainstream theatrical role in several years. His character is responsible for the murder of MacGruber's first bride and later decides he wants to destroy and take over the world because that's what evil people like to do. Cunth's scenes are played straight and serious which helps MacGruber's scenes which are played as a farce look all the more ridiculous.

The government decides that Cunth is too much for them to handle and they need to bring in the best man for the job. Former Green Beret, Navy Seal and Army Ranger. Winner of sixteen Purple Hearts, three Congressional Medals of Honor and seven Presidential Medals of Bravery. No, it's not Forrest Gump. It's the one and only Macgruber. (Will Forte)

MacGruber accepts the assignment, knowing that it could provide closure to a personal tragedy that has haunted him for years. Plus he can't resist another chance to find some new women and rip some throats out.

The movie almost reaches Naked Gun level of lunacy. MacGruber seems to know what he's doing and his peers seem to trust him for whatever reason. But he is so bad at his work that you would never guess him as a genius. If Frank Drebin had a son, MacGruber would kill him and assume his identity.

The humor is mostly lowbrow done in a genius way. The movie knows that its audience demands silliness. And they will get it. Maybe even a little more than they bargained for. The crude nature of the jokes will cause most folks of high class to look around nervously, wondering if it's safe to laugh. Others will not care in the slightest. They will eat it up and ask for seconds. At my showing, one person that was seated in the very back of the theater was laughing so hard that he had trouble breathing. And it was during the dirtiest scene in the entire movie.

I won't deny that the jokes are a wide arrangement of hit-and-missed targets, but what really sold the film for me was the performances of MacGruber's sidekicks. Lieutenant Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillipe) and Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig). Phillipe deserves special mention because he made his name in Hollywood with admirable dramatic roles. Seeing him in a movie as ridiculous as this one and often participating in self-depreciating gags has increased my already high respect for him. He nearly steals the show.

Amidst all the chaos, see how many references to 1980s action films you can spot. Road House and the Rambo saga were most obvious to me.

To enjoy MacGruber, you have to be willing to accept and understand what it is. A shameless array of violence, gore, over-the-top characters, slapstick, more violence, dramatic actors trying something different, a funny and disturbing sex scene, more slapstick, and a final death scene that deserves more than one slow-motion replay. Sound like a fun time? Then go check it out.

Rating: 7

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Complicated

Title: It's Complicated

Year of Release: 2009

MPAA Rating: R

Date Viewed: May 18th, 2010

Looking for a way to get rich? Already rich and want more? Stop what you're doing and learn how to bake a cake. After all, it seemed to work for our protagonist Jane. And I used to think that writing was the best thing to study in college. I had it all wrong.

It's Complicated is an adult drama that plays more like a teen comedy. Marijuana jokes and all. It's amazing how clever the disguise is. The behavior that these characters exhibit should realistically make it a guilty pleasure. Call me crazy though. I felt no guilt in enjoying this film.

We start the film by meeting Jane (Meryl Streep) a bakery owner who somehow lives in a house built for a movie star. Hmmm. With her son graduating, her daughter moving away and her husband ten years divorced, Jane is now an empty-nester and decides that now would be a good time to have her house expanded. Let me simplify that. There are less people in the house and she wants the house bigger. Materialism or insanity? Your call.

But before she gets to see that dream expansion built, it's off to New York to celebrate her son's graduation. After booking a hotel room, she encounters her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) at a bar and they start to reminisce of the good times spent together. Four bottles of wine later, the former couple find themselves in the same bed for the first time in ten years, amazed at how well their love-making went (and in Jane's case, how much wine she drank). Jake believes that it's a sign that they are still destined to be together. And the experience certainly beats living with his current girlfriend and her bratty son. So the affair begins. Jane is thrilled to have a man in her life again but shows some doubt over its emotional sincerity.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the man in charge of remodeling her home (Steve Martin) has an interest in Jane as well. Coincidentally, he has also recently dealt with a divorce and is seeking the perfect woman to fill the void in his life, having no idea that he is one of two competing men for her affection.

Jane is torn between her potential suitors. Jake guarantees a great time in bed while Adam the architect is an all-around nice guy and less of a psycho. She knows that time is running out before both men eventually discover each other's existence. Time runs out faster when Jane experiments with drugs and other gimmicks to shake up her love life. I shall stay true to my pledge for never spoiling the ending, but I will say that it's probably the perfect final decision, as evidenced by the smiles of those who were viewing the movie with me.

The film treats affairs in a rather humorous light. Even Jane's friends and psychiatrist are supportive of the idea despite its sinful nature. As I mentioned before, the characters' behavior is not something you would be proud to see your best friend doing, but I couldn't help but love them for it. It's the miracle of movies that allow you to rally behind someone you normally would have kicked out of the house weeks ago.

The writing is strong enough to make it a winner, but the cast is what really knocks it out of the park. Baldwin and Martin are in the best roles we've seen from them in quite a while. Meryl Streep is typical Meryl Streep, meaning she is great.

In short, It's Complicated teaches us that it's always dangerous to smoke pot and that it never hurts to love but it can make things complicated. Don't forget it.

Rating: 8

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trick 'r Treat

Title: Trick 'r Treat
Year of Release: 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Date Viewed: May 13th, 2010

The next time October rolls around and you unload your stash of horror movies to help get in the spirit of things, make sure to add this little gem to the pile. Screenwriter Michael Dougherty takes the director's chair for this horror anthology and gives us a real treat of a movie that is destined for cult status. Dougherty has previously written screenplays for two Bryan Singer-directed films; X-Men 2 and Superman Returns. Singer serves as a producer for this film.

The movie contains four stories interwoven with a common theme. Respect the traditions of Halloween or die. The stories unfold using a comic book style narrative with constant flashbacks and flash forwards to different events that occur during a single Halloween night. These events all have a connection often featuring several characters interacting with each other within their own respective tales. If you've seen Crash or any of its many clones, then you'll be familiar with the formula.

The phrase "the less said, the better" is usually not a compliment. In this case however, it's the highest compliment I can give. I won't reveal any potential spoilers but I will give you an idea of what to expect. Each of these four stories have their own little surprises attached and I defy anyone who can correctly predict them all. You may find yourself perplexed and maybe puzzled at some of the characters' behavior or at the vague foreshadowing. It's all part of the fun and what separates Trick 'r Treat from other horror films. Granted, foreshadowing and strange behavior are not uncommon for this genre, but the film never cheats the viewer. In fact, it rewards them.

In the first tale, we meet a mysterious school principal (Dylan Baker) who seems to enjoy Halloween a little too much. His affection for the traditions seem to have taken control of his sanity and possibly his soul.

In the second tale, we meet a group of young adult females who vow to help their friend (Anna Paquin) lose her virginity before the night is over. It's easier said than done, but not for the reasons you'd think.

In the third tale, we meet a group of young schoolchildren who decide to spend the evening honoring the victims of a Halloween legend. Supposedly, the ghosts of the victims still roam the crime scene. But that's not the most dangerous thing that's lurking around town.

In the fourth tale, we meet an elderly man (Brian Cox) that cannot stand Halloween and is paid a visit by a menace that seems to oversee all of the strange occurances that happen on Halloween night. Who exactly is this menace? Picture the spirit of Jacob Marley and the sadism of the Child's Play doll and you have your villain.

The thing that surprised me most about this film is its approach to the subject matter. Though it's not a comedy by any means, the plot and dialogue is laced with enough tongue-in-cheek humour so as not to take everything so seriously. The film feels like a throwback to the campy 1980s horror films where it focuses more on encouraging the audience to have fun over simply scaring them. It's a welcome refreshing break.

While Trick 'r Treat isn't as scary as the trailer would lead you to believe, it is still great fun and offers a Halloween film that adults can enjoy while their young ones watch Hocus Pocus in the other room. Watch it with friends and enjoy the ride.

And try not to eat too much candy.

Rating: 8

The Master of Disguise

Title: The Master of Disguise

Year of Release: 2002

MPAA Rating: PG

Date Viewed: May 13th, 2010

It may seem silly to express sympathy for someone who probably has a bigger bank account than I do, but truth be told I do feel bad for Dana Carvey. He is a terrific comedic talent and has found great success with Saturday Night Live, became a pop culture icon in Wayne's World and still makes a good living doing stand-up comedy. Despite this success, when his name is brought up in conversation, it usually winds up as a discussion of how funny he was rather than how funny he is. It's very unfair because his recent HBO special "Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies" proved to me that he hasn't lost his touch.

After the Saturday Night Live era, Carvey has had trouble finding his place in the mainstream. In 2001, an opportunity knocked on his door. He was able to get a major film role that would serve as a vehicle to his talent, especially his dead-on celebrity impersonations. This was the chance for that mainstream comeback that he and his fans had been waiting for.

Only there was a problem. The script was horrendous. It was uninspired with so many gags that never had any hope of success that Carvey had no choice but to try and carry the film purely on his ability to channel dozens of alter-egos. But some scripts are so bad that even someone as talented as Carvey couldn't save it. The film became known as The Master of Disguise and the thing that ruined Carvey's chance at finding a new audience. And the saddest part is watching him try so hard to make it work. I can't admire this film but I strongly admire its star's effort. Just watch that clip at the top again. It's the best scene in the movie and shows how much potential was there.

Here's a breakdown of the film's plot. There's not much there, so it won't take long. Carvey plays a dorky Italian waiter named Pistachio who discovers that he has inherited his family's ability to imitate others and transform flawlessly into another person. He is a true master of disguise. It's a skill that proves useful after his parents become kidnapped by a really evil guy who enjoys stealing artifacts all over the world. As for his motive, I really don't recall what it was because I was too distracted by the running joke where the villain lets out a fart every time he laughs out loud.

Anyway....Pistachio takes on a dozen different personas ranging from Tony Montana to a talking turtle. The script's reason behind this is so Pistachio and his eye-candy assistant can infiltrate the villain's roaming areas and find out more details on his non-complex sinister deeds. The real reason is so Carvey has a chance to make the audience laugh at his crazy characters. His versatility is impressive, but so few of the jokes work that I was half expecting a heckler to boo him off the screen or Chuck Barris to strike a very loud gong. Pistachio showing up place-to-place as a new character each time comprises eighty percent of the film's running time. The remaining twenty percent is split between the flatulence running gag and celebrity cameos that are ruined by the movie's need to point out exactly who is on the screen. A tip for comedy writers: If you have to spell out a cameo to your audience, it's probably not a funny one to begin with.

The Master of Disguise barely passes as a feature film. Its running time barely makes it over the eighty-minute mark. The DVD offers lots of footage of deleted and alternate scenes; further evidence that Carvey and the filmmakers were completely winging it without having a solid idea to rally behind.

Dana Carvey deserves better than this but probably won't get it. The damage had been done. But why am I so up in arms over this? I doubt he needs anyone to feel sorry for him. I guess it's because I'm a fan and I realize how much of a missed opportunity this was to create more of them. Keep us laughing, Dana. They don't know what they're missing.

Rating: 3

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Title: The Twilight Saga - New Moon

Year of Release: 2009

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Date Viewed: May 12th, 2010

Last week, Oprah Winfrey dedicated an entire episode of her show to the Twilight phenomenon. And she was not shy about calling it a phenomenon....over and over again. The episode mostly revolved around her asking funny questions to each cast member hoping for an equally funny response. Sometimes she got one (Taylor Lautner hates wolf-howling in public) and sometimes (mainly in the case of Kristen Stewart) she got a simple real answer. Poor Kristen Stewart. I'll discuss her later.

There was also some amusing skits that involved the male cast members making surprise appearances in the homes of Twilight fangirls, causing them to scream with such joy that it probably woke up every neighbor within three blocks of their location.

Oprah is right though. The Twilight saga is indeed a phenomenon and you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't at least know of its existence. The first Twilight film set a record for most DVD pre-orders at my Hollywood Video location; and all of them were reserved by females. The plot was simple. An average teenage girl falling in love with a vampire. A romance that is not supposed to ever happen. First there was Romeo and Juliet. Then there was West Side Story. And now we have it's third generation; the Twilight Saga. Perhaps its popularity can be attributed to one's natural tendency to fantasize about living dangerously. After all, what can be more dangerous than living with someone who craves the taste of your blood? Well....I suppose there are more dangerous things, like lighting a match at a gas station, but you're not supposed to think about those sort of things while watching a film like this.

I liked the first film. It had an aura behind it that made the experience feel like a novelty rather than a trip down "been there done that" road, which is what I was really expecting. The development of the relationship between the mortal Bella and the immortal Edward grew more interesting with each act and resulted in a memorable climax. It was far more entertaining than it had any right to be.

That's why I'm disappointed to say that New Moon did not have the same effect on me. I wanted to like it. I was hoping to have something to argue about with the naysayers who dismiss the Twilight phenomenon as nothing but a ditsy girl's fantasy. But this offering gave me the dreaded "been there done that" experience that I thought I was safe from.

The film starts off with a premonition of sorts from Bella (Kristen Stewart). She views her future with Edward (Robert Pattinson) disappearing as she grows older. The fear of losing him is unbearable to her, as his existence seems to be the only thing giving her life meaning. Ironically, the relationship is actually ended by Edward, who gets cold feet after witnessing a family member grasp for Bella's blood after she gives herself seemingly the largest papercut in recorded history. Edward realizes that having Bella in his family circle was too jeopardizing to her safety, which is a complete turnaround to the final act of the previous film where it was clearly established that accepting Bella was a risk he was willing to take. What a difference a papercut makes.

Not surprisingly, Bella is heartbroken and copes with the loss of her beloved Edward by feeding an addiction to thrills and excitement which seemed to have been born from that romance. It's a plot device that is designed to let us feel sympathy for that character, but instead we are left shocked at her blunt carelessness and disregard for her safety. It comes off more humorous than dramatic.

And Bella gets another love interest in the form of a seemingly normal guy named Jacob (Taylor Lautner) who is actually part of a tribe of werewolves. (Boy, she is really bad at choosing friends). The relationship is basically a carbon-copy of the Edward storyline and drags on for far too long. This time however, Edward makes surprise visits to Bella in spirit where he comes across as a scarier and more annoying version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, warning Bella not to act too recklessly because he still cares about her.

Of course since this is a franchise, we know that the Bella/Edward relationship is not over. And when the two unlikely yet perfect soul-mates reunite, it starts a love triangle with Jacob in the mix, proving that Bella has a lot of soul-searching to do....while she still has one.

There is also a new sub-plot involving the leaders of an organization that oversees vampire behavior in the human world which will not be fully developed until the third movie. But you can easily guess how they feel about the human/vampire romance. Hint: They will not be sending them Christmas cards.

The Twilight films are supposed to be somewhat campy in its style, but New Moon feels too unsure of itself at times. It's difficult to rally behind any party because all major characters display questionable behavior at times. Not to mention that too many lines seem forced than natural.

A true saving grace is Alexandre Desplat's musical score. He wrote a soft and beautiful theme for the main characters that represents the dark romance between its two main heroes. The music is used at all the right moments.

Despite all this criticism, I still have faith that the series can get back on its feet. Most of that faith stems from the performance of Kristen Stewart, who I believe is perfect for the role of Bella. Stewart has been the target of some much heated and much undeserved criticism on the Internet and I'd like to take a moment to defend her.

I have no knowledge of Stephanie Meyer's original novels so my views may not fall in line with the purists, but Stewart has impressed me with how easily she blends into her role. Her performance has been under heavy scrutiny due to the fact that her lines are often delivered awkwardly and her facial expressions are limited. In this case, it is NOT a bad thing. Like what M. Night Shyamalan did for The Happening (a misunderstood film in its own right), this is a case of awkward acting being mistaken for bad acting. Bella is supposed to be this confused naive girl. People like her do not act smoothly and in control of the situation. And I guarantee that if you suddenly find yourself surrounded by werewolves and vampires. you'd be at a loss for words too. Her reactions are very realistic and very un-Hollywoodlike (probably the only un-Hollywoodlike thing you will see in this franchise).

Stewart also brings a personal touch to the role. In her media interviews, she comes across as being very shy and very real. Even someone as down-to-Earth as Oprah couldn't get her to relax in front of the camera. She often mentions how much she values her family life, leading me to believe that red carpets and paparazzis isn't the lifestyle for her. Yet from my observations, she handles her fame with great care and maturity; something that other young actresses can learn from her. Stewart is very much in control and I hope she continues to listen to her fans instead of those losers that were quick to jump on her for coughing at last year's Academy Awards ceremony. (Seriously people, get a life.)

Defense over. On to conclude with the main topic.

To reiterate, New Moon is missing the novelty factor that made the first film special to a lot of people, including yours truly. I wonder if the rushed production has something to do with it. You can't blame the studio for wanting to milk this franchise for all it's worth. The box-office numbers speak for itself. But they can't afford to be too cocky with their success or it could cost them in the long run. This film may be a sign of things to come. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Rating: 4

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Title: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Year of Release: 2005

MPAA Rating: R

Date Viewed: May 11th, 2010

Our Robert Downey Jr fest wasn't quite over yet. Shortly after finishing Iron Man, a new friend walked into the room and asked if any of us had seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang yet. My first reaction was "...if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that, I'd have about sixty dollars."

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (boy is it fun to type that) was the kind of film that didn't seem to pull in much box office revenue but became a popular hit on video. The reason I think is because it has two traits that today's audiences appreciate. It is hip and self-aware.

Downey Jr plays a lowlife thief character named Harry Lockhart who suddenly finds himself in one ridiculous situation after another, starting with running into a Hollywood audition for a crime drama as a way of escaping the police. After somehow impressing the producers with his desperate performance, he spends time tagging along with a real detective Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) who is in fact, actually gay. Prepare for many jokes that like to point that out.

From that point on, the plot grows increasingly complex as Harry and Gay stumble upon murders, deception and double-crosses that will leave your head spinning, yet you'll still find yourself having a good time. It's kind of like getting drunk at a party, but don't do it during this film because you'll need to pay attention to some details.

The plot of tagging along with a detective is appropriate because the film is actually a subtle parody of the film noir genre. It's not an in-your-face spoof like a David Zucker film. It plays more like a tribute to the genre that prides itself on its cliches instead of pointing out how silly they are. The film is written and directed by Shane Black who has previously spoofed the action genre with 1993's Last Action Hero. Expect the same level of fun here but without anything being spelled out to you.

Fun is the word best described for this film noir tribute/parody. Harry Lockhart's narration is inconsistent and often obnoxious....and that's a good thing for a non-serious film such as this. On the negative side, the film is often too fast-paced for its own good and can get a bit crazy to follow in the second half. However, the amount of wit and creativity put into this project makes up for its shortcomings. It easily has enough entertainment value for a recommendation.

Rating: 7

Friday, May 14, 2010

Iron Man

Title: Iron Man

Year of Release: 2008

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Date Viewed: May 11th, 2010

This review covers the original 2008 film. The sequel will be reviewed on a later date.

I have seen this film during its theatrical run and recently decided to revisit it with some friends who were all interested in its upcoming sequel and are fans of Robert Downey Jr. All of us became so amused by Downey's wisecracks with straight delivery that we later watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which will be covered on the next post.

At the time of its release, I had become burned out by the superhero genre and wished Hollywood would stop depending on Stan Lee's ideas for their fortunes and present some of their own. Plus I hadn't really been familiar with the character of Iron Man outside of the "Captain America and the Avengers" arcade game that featured Iron Man alongside other Marvel superheroes in a side-scrolling beat-em-up quest to save the world. I eventually decided to take a chance on it due to a friend's urging to come see it with him. I don't remember the reason why he was so gung-ho about watching it. Maybe he thought the explosions looked cool. I don't know.
After watching the film, I was left with two conclusions. The first was that Iron Man was a perfectly average and acceptable superhero film. The second was that a perfectly average and acceptable superhero film was still better than most stuff you'd find at a multiplex. It's very entertaining, yet it seems doubtful that its popularity will hold up. Only time will tell on that.

Iron Man's alter ego Tony Stark is a bit similar to Bruce Wayne. He is wealthy and not afraid to flaunt what the common man can only dream of. A mansion in Malibu, fancy cars, women that follow him for attention and people that follow his orders. And like Bruce Wayne, his transformation into a superhero was the result of an accident of unforeseeable circumstances. Unlike Bruce Wayne however, Stark's income is dependant on a more controversial trade. His company manufactures large-scale military weapons and sells them to both the National and International armies. When a visit overseas results in him being held hostage by a group of Afghan terrorists who want him to build a missile for them, Stark realizes that he owes more responsibility to his business and needs to keep the weapons out of the wrong hands, which is even more complex than he knows.

Stark breaks free from his captors by instead building an advanced suit of armor that can fire weapons and shield him from heavy firepower. After returning home, Stark ceases all production of his company's weapons and works privately to build another suit of armor, which will help Stark combat the forces of evil and understand his true potential.

Stark's right-hand man Obadiah (Jeff Bridges) is dismayed at his colleague's sudden change of heart out of concern for his meal ticket and something the audience won't know about until later.
Robert Downey Jr portrays Stark with terrific wit and charisma. His scenes are easily the most fun to watch and it's interesting to see his progression from cold arrogant businessman to cold arrogant businessman with a conscience. His allies include his assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and U.S. military leader James Rhodes (Terrence Howard) who are aware of Stark's motivations and do their part to help with his mission.

Iron Man has a serious undertone to it (weapons are not to be taken lightly), but the film doesn't allow itself to be too serious, which is the ideal formula for the superhero genre. The villains are cartoon-like in behavior yet are still believable in their fear presence. By the time the film reaches its climax, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat waiting and hoping for good to win over evil.

One thing that surprised me about this revisitation was how I noticed that there is little time actually devoted to action scenes, which is odd considering I remembered the film as being very loud and fast-paced. It may disappoint the Michael Bay fans out there, but it's great to see an action film having a story to fall back on instead of solely depending on loud explosions. Of course, that only works if you find the storyline interesting. To me, it was just interesting enough to work.

Iron Man works on its own, but this may be the rare case where sequels are necessary to carve out a true legacy. Let's hope it happens because they're off to a great start.

Rating: 8

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Commentary: Welcome To My World.

Come inside and make yourself comfortable. How did you find this place anyway? Let me guess. You typed your favorite movie into a search engine to see what other kind of useless knowledge there is to know about that movie and accidentally stumbled onto a list of opinions by some guy you don't know. Either that or you already know me and you're here because I gave you the link out of fear that no-one else will ever see this place.

All of you are welcome, friends and strangers alike.

This blog is something I had envisioned for quite a while and I think now is the right time to turn it into a reality. The idea was inspired by my three years of employment with the now defunct Hollywood Video movie rental chain. The most fun and rewarding part of that era was the way that it changed the way I look at movies. Customers would often seek advice from me on what titles would be suitable for their needs and interests. It didn't take long to realize that I could no longer analyze films purely for my personal enjoyment. They needed to be viewed with objectivity and a glimpse as to how other others would perceive them.

It became somewhat of an addiction, as I found myself watching at least five movies every week and reciting brief summaries on all the observations and emotions that came with each film's viewing. That way, if there was a customer inquiry on a certain title, I would know exactly what to say without having to resort to the generic "It was good" that most others in my position would settle for. Though I made my cases clear, I made sure to list both positive and negative qualities that every film had. So even if someone didn't take my advice to stay away from a particular title, he/she may still decide to rent it based on the positive aspects that suit their taste.

I try to avoid becoming a critic, meaning that it shouldn't be my job to tell you what you can and cannot enjoy. The decision should be ultimately made by the individual whether or not to devote two hours out of their day to watch someone's art. Treat others the way you want to be treated and don't talk to anyone in a way that you wouldn't want to be talked to. Trust was my ultimate goal. Agree or disagree as you wish. Just understand that I will never try to manipulate or steer you the wrong way.

Sadly, my work ended in vain. Hollywood Video is now liquidating all stores, so none of my efforts to help customers feel comfortable shopping there paid off. It was a depressing end to a lifestyle such loved. But even though I was no longer obligated to carefully analyze the films, it was hard to break out of that mindset. My tastes were no longer the only ones that mattered. I still felt the desire to share my excitement or distaste of movies with other movie fans. It shows up in family or friend gatherings all the time. My mouth would stay silent during most topics of conversation. But when someone mentions a movie they had just seen, my eyes grow wide, my voice gets loud and the familiar excitement returns just long enough to feel like a big shot again.

This blog is a new tool and a new era for sharing my love of the movies. There are no gimmicks or games used here and the material will be presented in near-real time. Whatever film I happen to be watching during the week for whatever reason will result in my thoughts and reactions being posted here.

I like to use IMDB's ten-star rating system. It allows a flexibility that is useful at ranking the overall reaction to watching the movies. Films with a rating of 7 or higher are recommended. Films with a rating of 4 through 6 are considered average at best and are suggested to be approached with caution. Films with a rating of 3 or lower are strongly advised to be avoided altogether.

Comments are encouraged. The great thing about movies is that there are no right or wrong answers as to how a film should be perceived. Whether you agree, disagree or think I'm totally insane, I would love to hear your perspective. And thinking I'm insane will probably happen sooner than later since my opinions go against the grain very often.

Blogs are new to me. The design will start off plain, but should grow more colorful as I learn to use more tools over time. Please don't be too hard on me for it.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the site.