Tag: movies

The Best of Lee: Team America, World Police

Given recent events, I thought it would be nice to link up Lee’s post on Team America: World Police where he responds to the negative review from Roger Ebert:

Particularly important quote:

Is there any doubt that if this were a two-hour Bush bashing fest Ebert would have found it a brilliant piece of political satire? Ebert, who is usually pretty astute when it comes to these sort of things, is so blinded by his political opinions that he missed the entire point of the film. Team America represents America itself, Roger. This point is so blatantly obvious that only Ebert’s willful ignorance can explain his inability to see it.

During the end scene in North Korea, when Gary is doing the dick/pussy/asshole speech, he is obviously talking about America. The point of the speech, and of the film itself, is that America is a giant, blustery, idealistic 800lb gorilla. Often times we do things and we fuck them up horribly, but as it stands right now we’re the only country able to do them. In one priceless scene, Hans Blix confronts Kim Jong Il, ordering Kim (under authority of the United Nations) to give him unlimited access to his compound to check for WMD. “Or what?” Kim asks. Blix then replies sternly, “We’ll get really, really mad. And we’ll send you an angry letter!” The point here is one that I have made many, many times on this blog. You can only threaten action so many times before you get called on your bluff. The UN, without american power, is utterly impotent to deal with threats. And while America might not be the most diplomatic nation sometimes, we’re the only ones who can get the job done.

Think about “red lines” and other such empty threats Barack Obama has made.

He also gets into why so many celebrities, including Ebert, hated the film so intensely.

When I write a post I leave myself fully open to getting torn a new asshole. People can immediately leave comments telling me what I clueless douchebag I am, and occasionally they’re right. These celebrity morons, however, are never, ever challenged on their bullshit. Sean Penn goes to Iraq and returns to be treated like an expert on the subject. (You know, I went to the zoo once, but that doesn’t mean I can speak authoritatively on elephants or giraffes.)

The reason Ebert doesn’t like seeing pampered, self-righteous, egotistical celebrity morons being made fun of is that he himself is a pampered, self-righteous, egotistical celebrity moron. He only sees nihilism in this film is because he cannot imagine a world in which his opinion is not important, and by tearing down people who have the same opinions as him you are, by proxy, destroying the very reason he exists: to tell other people what he thinks. The difference, of course, is that in the area of film Ebert speaks with authority. In the area of social commentary he’s just as much a bloviating, self-righteous dick as I am. But when you’re used to people kissing your ass telling you how brilliant you are, being cut down to size can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Read the whole thing, as always.

Ebert Gone

Roger Ebert has died. As you can probably guess, I didn’t see eye to eye with Ebert on politics. In fact, the first post I ever did for the old Moorewatch site was a rebuttal of many of the things Ebert said in his Sicko! review.

But as a film critic, I thought he was great. From my “Ebert is wrong post” (which has some language I’m not proud of, but won’t flush down the memory hole):

Roger Ebert is one of the great film critics (check out the insight of the last two paragraphs of today’s review). There are very few who can get a general audience excited about art films and Ebert is one of them. He’s never been a kaffeeklatsch critic who just wants to sit around with other critics and discuss Citizen Kane. He wants everyone to be excited about great film. He’s turned me on to a number of great films, notably Grave of the Fireflies.

Grave of the Fireflies, by the way, if you are ever feeling too happy and want to feel awful for a couple of days. It is a great film. And like many great films — United 93, for example — I can only watch it every few years.)

One of my favorite Ebert reviews was one I disagreed with. He wrote a long review of Return of the King justifying his three-star rating and explaining why he thought it was good but not what it could have been (I can’t link right now as the Sun Times server is flooded). I didn’t agree with him but I saw his argument and respected his opinion. I love articles that make me think and make me say, “I think you’re wrong, but you make a good argument.”

What was really fun was when Ebert would return to a movie and re-evaluate it. He liked The Big Lebowski, but later added it to his Great Movies list. The same with Planes, Trains and Automobiles. There are probably a dozen movies I would place an all-time great list that I wouldn’t have seen had Ebert not flogged them.

He wrote thousands of reviews, multiple books and a well-trafficked blog that touched on everything including politics. Roger Ebert loved movies and his love was infectious. He was a gifted writer, a gifted critic and a critical voice in understanding film over five decades. RIP.

Friday Five: Holiday Films

It’s been a while, so let’s go with your five favorite holiday films. They can either be so sentimental that you need an insulin shot before watching or so cynical they make Machiavelli seem like a pollyanna. You can also be very loose in your definition (I ran across a list that had “Die Hard” as a holiday movie. Yes.)

My five?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: I saw this in the theater long ago and have rarely laughed so hard. As time has gone on, the jokes have stayed just as funny but I have more appreciated the movie’s heart. John Candy and John Hughes at their best.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: Tim Burton’s movies are a lot more sentimental than they are generally giving credit for.

Miracle on 34th Street: The original.

Bad Santa: I like this movie a lot, but mainly put in here to break up the treacle of my previous and next choices.

It’s a Wonderful Life: So sue me.

What are your five?

Friday Five: Guilty Pleasures

I’m a bit late with this today but figured we can use the mental health break as we close in on the election. Today’s five is movies that are guilty pleasures.

By “guilty pleasure” I mean a movie you know is not a classic or enriching or a “feeelm”. You might even go so far as to say you would be mildly embarrassed to be caught watching it. But it will be warming your DVD player more often than, say, Citizen Kane. Or if you’re channel surfing and find it, you’ll stop. It’s something you put on when you want to turn the brain off.

My five?

Kick-ass: This may not quote fit the category but, to quote me:

I have this rated 7/10 and that’s probably my ego insisting that I can’t like it as much as I do. This was just so much fun to watch. I know Roger Ebert and others were appalled by a young girl spewing profanities and murdering roomfuls of bad guys. And if I took it seriously, I would be too. But the movie is so ridiculously over the top, so obviously satirical, I was able to enjoy it on its own terms. I hope we see a lot more of Chloe Moretz, who is utterly charming.

Moretz was also excellent in Hugo.

The Mummy: Roger Ebert famously said of this: “Look, art this isn’t. Great trash, it isn’t. Good trash, it is.” It’s ridiculous and silly and bit impossible. I’ll watch just about anything with Rachel Weisz in it, but this is one of my favorites. It’s absurdly fun. Brendan Frasier has probably been in more guilty pleasure movies than anyone in Hollywood.

There’s Something About Mary: My dad sent this to me out of the blue for Christmas one year. It’s not art by any means. But it’s the Ferrelly Brother’s best so far. It understand the principle rule of gross-out comedy: having a basic sweetness about the characters.

Commando: I debated putting Predator here but that movie has too much going for it. Commando, by contrast, is just dumb. Arnold blows away about six hundred guys because they kidnapped his daughter. Dumb dumb dumb. And totally unashamed. And I probably watch it about once a year with a grin.

Young Sherlock Holmes: As a Holmes fan, I should be outrageously outraged about this. But it has a great sense of fun. My brother and I loved this as kids and used to re-enact the mummy sacrifice scene with my sister’s dolls (she didn’t think was such a hot idea).

Honorable Mentions: A host of 80’s films: War Games, Real Genius, the Last Starfighter, Goonies. If it was made in the 80’s and has cheese spilling out of the camera reels, I probably like it.

What are your five?

Friday Five: Scary Movies

Halloween is next week, so why don’t we have a Friday Five on the five movies that scared you the most. Note that I’m not saying “best horror movies”. Coppolla’s Dracula is a fine movie but it didn’t scare me. I mean five movies that really frightened you, at least for a while.

My five?

The Exorcist: I still have trouble sleeping if I think about it too much.

The Others: Wonderfully suspenseful and creepy. Probably wouldn’t scare me as much the second time.

The Shining: Didn’t creep me out as much as the book did, but still plenty of nervous chills.

Psycho: The thing is: I knew everything about this movie going in. And I was still on the edge of my seat for the entire film. I literally gasped out loud when Norman’s “mother” raced out of her room and stabbed the detective.

The Day After: Not a conventional horror or suspense film, so maybe it shouldn’t be on this list. But it’s depiction of a nuclear attack is still chilling and frightening years later.

What are your five?

Friday Five: Uplift

A rough week. Protests in the Middle East over a stupid “film”. Four good Americans dead in Libya. The anniversary of 9/11. Time for a mental health break. And we’ll make it a good one.

How about the five most uplifting movies you’ve ever seen? This could be five films that made you feel good about America, about yourself, about God, or whatever. Documentaries or feature films. They could have made you cry or laugh. Just five films you would pop into the DVD player if you needed to feel better about life and the kid used the CD of Beethoven’s 9th as a coaster.

My five?

Schindler’s List: Most of the movie is brutal, obviously. But the finale, when the actual Schindler Jews appear and put rocks on his gravestone (a Jewish tradition) is so moving that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it or even thought about it without something in my eye. Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan has a similar effect on me. It’s a crushingly brutal movie. But the very end makes me so proud to be an American and so proud of that generation. Band of Brothers, also, at the end, when they reveal the names of the old men who’ve been talking between the episodes and you realize they made it home.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Cliche? Oh, yeah. You bet. There’s a hilarious scene in the teaser for a Cheers episode where the gang are all mocking the movie. And at the end, they are all running out of the room because they have something in their eyes.

Apollo 13: Before Ron Howard’s movie came out, I saw a documentary on the lost moon mission. Gene Krantz broke down in tears when talking about seeing the parachutes open and knowing they’d made it. The ending is good, yes, but the entire movie is an ode to the space program and the people who so ingeniously solved every problem physics could throw at them. See also The Right Stuff.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Yeah, another Spielberg one. It was this or ET.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Someone recently quipped that Atticus Finch was not only a model for every lawyer but a model for every father. I love both the book and the film and can’t wait until Sal 11000 Beta is old enough for them.

Honorable Mention: Tree of Life, Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth, Rocky, Shawshank Redemption, Casablanca, Star Wars.

Friday Five: Films

I think, at some point, we had a regular Friday fun feature to keep things loose and friendly. Maybe we can bring it back as the Friday Five. Every Friday, I’ll come up with some subject about which we can all list our top five. And then we can argue in the comments. It may get a little esoteric as time goes on (“OK, people what are your top five shirt buttons?”). But we’ll see how it goes.

Today’s is Top Five movies. You can do this any way you want: the five greatest, your five favorites, the five you’d want with you on a desert island (assuming said desert island had a blu-ray player).

I’ll list my five. In no particular order, I’d take: Lawrence of Arabia, Lord of the Rings, Schindler’s List, The Godfather and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. That’s my list today; tomorrow the list could be five different movies.

Movie Time

Some fun cinema stuff is topical of late. Hollywood is doing it’s part to get in line and make sure Obama gets his message out, what good little soldiers they are. Here is the trailer for The Obama Effect:

Gee, a black liberal enamored by another black liberal, alert the media.

On the flip side, we have The Conservatives:

This is a message I have been championing since I started blogging, the veritable explosion of wealth and prosperity, unleashing the entrepreneurial motive and allowing folks to progress and elevate themselves as fair as their talent and hard work will take them, that is the American spirit.

The Obama movie will play in a theater near you, and will probably die a spectacular death opening weekend, what a snoozer. The Conservative movie will not get a helping hand from film distributors, you have to order the movie from the website, but if you are a student (HS or college), the price is right.

As a side note, I totally understand that Chris Matthews tingle thingee, I get it in the nether regions whenever I see Monica Crowley.

Yes, our message in the better message, but getting it out there, preserving our system as it was intended, no small feat given the constant nibbling on the fringes by the wealth redistributor in chief.

The other day I took my kid and we finally saw The Amazing Spiderman, we had been travelling on vacation so this was our first chance. Holy Smokes, what a great movie. Not only has CGI come a long way, but this guy makes a much better Peter Parker then the old guy. I like Toby but he was ill suited and missed cast for this role, and it showed. Stan Lee has finally seen his vision come to fruition, and how cool is it that he gets to make a cameo each movie like Hitchcock did?

I was never a big Batman fan so all this Dark Knight hysteria is lost on me. Anybody feel differently and jacked up over the new movie?

Or any other new movie that is out or coming out you wish to weigh in on.