Archive for May, 2008

30
May
08

In Passing… Harvey Korman (1927-2008)

 

 

 

Famed TV personality Harvey Korman passed away yesterday at the UCLA Medical Center in California from complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Korman was a talented comedic actor, appearing in several TV shows and movies with his beginning as the voice of the Great Gazoo for the cartoon “The Flintstones.” He would later go on to team up with Mel Brooks and play characters such as Hedley Lamarr (“Blazing Saddles”), Dr. Charles Montague (“High Anxiety”), Count de Monet (“History of the World, Part I), and Dr. Jack Seward (“Dracula: Dead and Loving It”). His real notoriety, however, came from being a character actor on, “The Carol Burnett Show” (1967-1978).

 

For more information, check out his entertainment resume at IMDB.com:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0466327/

 

“Count de Money!” “It’s COUNT DE MONET!” –“History of the World, Part I”

 

Best wishes to the family,

-Chas

30
May
08

Remake Radar: Highlander

Heeeere we are…

Yep, at the end of May and with another edition of Remake Radar. This month’s selection: the sci-fi fantasy summer sleeper flick, “Highlander.”

 

“Highlander” (1986)

 

Stars: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, and Roxanne Hart.

 

Director: Russell Mulcahy.

 

Story: Christopher Lambert (having just finished “Greystoke”) plays Connor Macleod (of the Scottish clan MacLeod) who was born in 1518 in the Highlands of Scotland. In the year 1536 he was killed by an immortal named “The Kurgan” only to wake up and walk and talk as if nothing happened. He’s quickly banished and moves out to the middle of nowhere, finds a wife, and begins settling down when he’s visited by Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Connery). Ramirez informs him that they are Immortal and cannot die unless they are beheaded. Oh yeah, and they can’t age or have children. For the next part, let me quote Connery from the movie:

 

From the dawn of time we came; moving silently down through the centuries, living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering; when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you… until now.

 

It’s now New York City, 1986. Connor has to stay alive to fight against The Kurgan as well as keeping his identity a secret from Brenda Wyatt, whose knowledge of swordsmanship gets her caught in the middle of Connor’s quest for the Gathering whereupon if he wins, he will attain “The Prize”: the ability to be able to resume growing old, be able to have kids, and know the thoughts of all men.

 

And remember: There Can Be Only One!

 

Based on a story by Gregory Widen.

 

On a personal note, I hadn’t heard of “Highlander” until some point in the early-Nineties. Once I had watched the initial U.S. Theatrical Cut, I was hooked. Immortality. Scotland. Swordfighting. Women. What else did you need?

 

As with a lot of “original” material, “Highlander” spawned several films (I watched “Final Dimension” and “Endgame” in theatres) that sucked, but the TV show with Connor’s cousin “Duncan” (played by Adrian Paul) was worth watching (except for when they got into the “Dark Quickening”). I tried to like the sequels, but “Highlander 2” destroyed the “mysticism” of the first, the third was a rehashing of the first, and the fourth was entirely unneeded. As for the current direct-to-DVD “Highlander: The Source,” I’m wasting digital characters just mentioning it.

 

But for reasons unknown, there has been resurgence in “all things Eighties.” The rock band Queen has reunited (sort of) and have “rock musical.” “Highlander” itself now has a comic book. I guess it was only time before someone would begin plotting a remake.

 

What do we know now?: “Iron Man” co-writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway are on this one. They’re thinking of using the “guy who cannot die watches as girlfriends who can, do.” That was the angle Widen supposedly wrote…

 

I’m not calling this game just yet, but I believe that the remake will suffer from serious lack of a rockin’ soundtrack. No rumours yet as to if Lambert, Brown, or anyone else from the original will make a cameo appearance. Original producer Peter Davis will be overlooking the project, though.

29
May
08

June 2008 Movie Releases

 

 

 

“Kung Fu Panda” – Animated adventure about a panda who is the “Chosen One” and must defeat a Tiger of ancient evil. Voices by Jack Black and Angelina Jolie. Opens June 6, 2008

 

“Miss Conception” – Heather Graham plays “beat the biological clock” as she goes through myriads of men, just to get a donor. Was there a line for this? Opens June 6, 2008

 

“The Promotion” – Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly are supermarket managers vying for a managerial position at a new location. Will this inspire other like-wise films? Maybe competition among Wal-Mart employees? Whatever. Opens June 6, 2008.

 

“You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” – Adam Sandler is Israeli counter-terrorist who move to America to be hair stylist. I not make this up. Opens June 6, 2008

 

“The Happening” – M. Night Shamma-Lamma-Ding-Dong’s next movie. A sci-fi “plants are taking over” story with Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo. Opens June 13, 2008

 

“The Incredible Hulk” – Dr. David Bruce Banner / Hulk is back, this time played by Ed Norton. Complications arise when he’s taken on by Abomination, a creature that matches his size and strength. Reportedly, their fight scene is 26 minutes long. Opening June 13, 2008

 

“Quid Pro Quo” – Nick Stahl is a guy who is paralyzed and is investigating a world where people get their kicks from becoming disabled. He’s led into this world by none other than Vera Farmiga. It could be worse… Opens June 13, 2008

 

“Get Smart” – Steve Carell is Agent Maxwell Smart. Anna Hathaway is Agent 99. Alan Arkin is the Chief. The Rock is in on it as well. Opens June 20, 2008

 

“Kit Kittredge: An American Girl” – Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) plays the title character (based on the American Girl stories) about a girl who wants to be a reporter during the Depression. When a murder is committed, she takes the job of investigating. Maybe she can get some help from Nancy Drew… Also stars Joan Cusack. Opening June 20, 2008

 

“The Love Guru” – Mike Myers, Justin Timberlake, and Jessica Alba in a story of a man brought up in India who comes to the U.S. trying to break into the self-help business. Opens June 20, 2008

 

“Finding Amanda” – Matthew Broderick is a compulsive gambler sent to Las Vegas to find his 20-year-old niece Amanda (Britney Snow), who is now a hooker, and take her to rehab. No, no, no. Opening June 27, 2008

 

“Wall*E” – A lonely robot left on a planet finally gets a friend after 700 years, only for her to be taken away. Pixar’s latest venture. The trailer is great! Opening June 27, 2008

 

“Wanted” – James MacAvoy becomes the latest drama-turned-action star in a story about a young man who finds out that his dad was an assassin and now, HE’S part of the fraternity. It also includes Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie. Opening June 27, 2008

27
May
08

In Passing…: Sydney Pollack (1934-2008)

 

 

Sydney Pollack passed away from cancer yesterday at the age of 73 in Pacific Palisades, California. Pollack is best known as being a Director and Producer, most notably for the films “Michael Clayton,” “Tootsie,” “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?,” “Jeremiah Johnson,” and “Out of Africa,” for which he won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture. He has garnered 18 additional awards for his films, as well as 26 nominations.

 

Pollack directed 21 films, produced 47, and acted in 23 as well as having had additional experience in the world of television. For more information, check out his IMDB page at:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001628/

Best wishes to the Pollack family.

 

-Chas

26
May
08

Movie News and Views Memorial Day Edition

 

 

 

“The Promotion” – Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly are supermarket managers vying for a managerial position at a new location. Will this inspire other like-wise films? Maybe competition among Wal-Mart employees? Whatever. Opens June 6, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://movies.aol.com//movie/the-promotion/33211/video/trailer-no-1/2120893

 

“Quid Pro Quo” – Nick Stahl is a guy who is paralyzed and is investigating a world where people get their kicks from becoming disabled. He’s led into this world by none other than Vera Farmiga. It could be worse… Opens June 13, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://movies.aol.com//movie/quid-pro-quo/32557/video/trailer-no-1/2124402

 

“Finding Amanda” – Matthew Broderick is a compulsive gambler sent to Las Vegas to find his 20-year-old niece Amanda (Britney Snow), who is now a hooker, and take her to rehab. No, no, no. Opens June 27, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://movies.aol.com//movie/finding-amanda/33831/video/trailer-no-1/2124401

 

“The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” – It’s been years since “Mummy 2” and now Alex O’Connell is grown up and having an adventure, facing a cursed Chinese Emperor named Qin, who had his enemies turned into statues and can use that at his will at any time. This probably sounds cooler than it will end up being. Opens August 1, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer.php?id=748&item=0

 

“Eagle Eye” – Michelle Monaghan is a single mother and Shia LeBeouf is a slacker. Both are framed as terrorists and are on the run. Opens September 26, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer.php?id=1001&item=0

 

“City of Ember” – 200 years ago a city was built underground with a limited amount of power and resources. Time’s up. Stars Tim Robbins and Bill Murray. Opens October 10, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://movies.aol.com//movie/city-of-ember/30240/video/trailer-no-1/2128415

 

“Australia” – Word War II period piece with Nicole Kidman inheriting a ranch the size of Maryland and Hugh Jackman as the guy she reluctantly gets to help her drive 2,000 head of cattle across the country. Hugh’s not the only one who would do that for her… Opens November 14, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/headline.php?id=8684

 

“Twilight” – The new MTV-produced vampire movie. Stars Kristen Stewart. Opens December 12, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://movies.aol.com//movie/twilight-2008/31347/video/trailer-no-1/2123869

 

“Bigger, Stronger, Faster” – A new documentary about America’s addiction to being the best, which just so happens to have a little side-effect called Steroid Abuse. Really? That’s what I get for wanting to get “pumped up” like Hans and Franz. Coming soon! View the trailer at:

http://movies.aol.com//movie/bigger-stronger-faster/32516/video/trailer-no-1/2122790

 

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – From director David Fincher (“Seven,” “The Game,” “Fight Club,” “Zodiac”) is a movie based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, where a man is born whose outside age regresses while he grows up and old. The title character is played by Brad Pitt. Coming soon! View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer.php?id=168&item=0

 

“Noise” – Tim Robbins is an angered-minded citizen by day. By night he’s the Rectifier: a man damaging every car that has its alarm go-off. Also stars Bridget Moynahan and William Hurt. Coming soon! View the trailer at:

http://movies.aol.com//movie/noise-2008/31558/video/trailer-no-1/2123236

22
May
08

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

 

 

“Indiana” Jones gets an “X-File.”

 

Starring Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LeBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

 

Good, not great. Worth watching, but not the wait.

 

It’s been 19 years since “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and I’m thinking… that may have been a little too long of a wait. The year is 1957, and the story kicks off with a convoy heading into the infamous Area 51. The convoy is Russian headed by Stalin-loving psychic Dr. Irina Spalko (Blanchett). She is holding “Indy” and his friend “Mack” (Winstone) hostage in order for Indy to guide her to a box taken from the Roswell crash site. Following a double-cross by Mack and a derring-do escape from the military warehouse, he goes from the frying pan into the fire as he winds up in the small town about to be “nuked.” He escapes inside a refrigerator and is later questioned by the FBI as to his “possible” Communist ties, nevermind the fact that he served in the War (and is now “Colonel” Jones).

 

Back at the college Indy is teaching when Dean Sanforth (Broadbent) asks him to take a reprieve due to the FBI looking through Indy’s office. Little does he know that Indy is being followed by the Feds as well as the Russians. Added to that is a visit by ‘Mutt’ Williams (LeBeouf), a stereotypical 50’s “greaser” (looking like Brando) who tells Indy that an old acquaintance, Professor Oxley (Hurt), has been kidnapped when he was looking for a mythical “lost” city and a “crystal skull.” Williams’ mother Marion apparently knows Indy and had Mutt give him this information.

 

CUT to the plane dissolved with a map, tracking their movement to South America. From there it’s the quest to find the crystal skull (which looks like H.R. Giger designed it) and for return. Indy meets with Marion Ravenwood-Williams (Allen) and finds that Oxley is alive as well as insane. The Russians seem to meet them at every turn as well, with Spalko wanting the crystal so she can harness all the knowledge in the known universe. And last but not least is Mack, who can never decide whose side he’s really on.

 

I’ve been trying to figure out what is missing from this movie and the answer is… danger. Whatever event happens to Indy isn’t IMPERATIVE; everyone chugs along from scene to scene, basically acting out the story. There’s no real tension or DANGER, just scrapes and skirmishes. But enough of that.

 

What I did enjoy the movie is solid Spielbergian filmmaking. Sure, it’s not the greatest story ever told but whatever he tells, he tells it well. There were long and medium shots as opposed to close-up vs. close-up. The actors had to ACT, which worked well for the most part.

 

Another thing missing: a rousing John Williams score. The initial “Raiders” theme is present but is unheard until maybe the 30 minute point. In fact, most of the music is subdued.

 

The writing works for most of the movie, but “Indy 4” gives more than a nod to “Temple of Doom.” If “Indy 2” is really disliked as much as Spielberg lets on, he didn’t show it. Also the ending is reminiscent of “X-Files: Fight the Future.” Hope that doesn’t ruin it for you…

 

Finally, mention is made for Marcus Brody and Henry Jones, Sr. as their characters have “passed on.” No kudos for Sallah, though.

 

Why to see this movie: well it’s enjoyable, watchable, you can take your kids (or parents) to see it, and nostalgic. In regards to nostalgia, when I was leaving the theatre a guy exclaimed, “You know what? Russians are no substitute for Nazis.” True enough.

 

My grade: B

20
May
08

New to the Endangered Species List: The Video Rental Store Guy

There is a species among man that has now found itself among the endangered; souls who find themselves with the likes of the Arakan Forest Turtle and the Javan Rhino. Where once they could be found nearly anywhere in captivity they’re reserves are now scattered, their laborious domiciles eyesores verging on dilapidation. This species goes by the description “Video repono pensio alio;” the Video Rental Store Guy.

 

This species was first discovered in the late 1970’s, when electronics began to arrive in the family home. At the time the species was divided between two groups: the Beta tapes, and the Videocassettes. As the pornographic industry gave Videocassettes their approval, Beta tapes found themselves being phased-out and their “rental assistants” found themselves cohabitating with the VHS to continue their survival. The advent of the Laserdisc showed no change to the cause of the Video Rental Store Guy, nor any significant change to the Video Rental Store Retailer.

 

The Retailers came, went, changed, and merged; whether it was Roadrunner, West Coast Video, Red Giraffe, Blockbuster, Family Circus, or any number of franchise or local-based stores, the Video Rental Store Guy adapted to the changes and environments. As a nation went forth into the Nineteen-Nineties, the VRSG looked forward to a bright and shining future; he was standing on the peak of Home Video Entertainment.

 

Little did he know that two things would change the face of home entertainment forever.

 

In the mid-Nineties the computing world introduced its inter-network, called the World Wide Web, to the culture en masse. While a few made note and slowly it gained acceptance, the VSRG only saw it as computers connecting to other computers; there wasn’t any harm to be seen. People were still renting VCR’s to watch their movies, and on occasion someone WOULD buy a popcorn, soda, and candy combo.

 

Around the same time came the release of the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD). DVD’s were lighter, cheaper, and held more information than a standard VHS tape. They also came with the functionality of the Laserdisc but again, they were smaller. The changeover from VHS to DVD was slow as human culture was not sure about embracing this new technology. In fact it wasn’t until the motion picture, “The Matrix,” that DVD gained acceptance into home entertainment.

 

Unbeknownst to the VSRG, DVD and the WWW (or Internet) would soon be married in the form of online renting through several services, the least of which is called Netflix. Netflix operated by offering a catalog of movies difficult to find in some areas and stores, and the ability for the renters to receive rentals through mail. Retailers were quick to counter the movement, offering packages whereby renters could pay a monthly sum to rent movies through the mail and return them to a store, where they would have in-store credit and be able to choose among that retailer’s selection.

 

The Internet led to more developments: computers having DVD burners and peer-to-peer software that allowed for individuals to copy movies and distribute them to friends. Netflix allowed for “recommendations” based on a person’s movie “queue.” The biggest change was that now the common person didn’t have to drive to a store to get a movie or drop on off, they no longer had to deal with late fees, and they didn’t have to spend the extra money for a combo.

 

Now the VSRG finds himself having to hock combos just to stay in the business. The people are staying at home; no one needs his suggestions. The Retailers are closing their stores and/or merging them, and the Video Store Rental Guy is doing everything he can to keep his job. As he stands looking across a vast landscape that was once rife with videotapes, he sheds a tear.