Posts Tagged ‘Film’

REVIEW: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Dir. David Fincher)

Posted on January 14, 2009 by

It’s been a tradition for the past few years to see a movie on Christmas day instead of spending time with my family.

A lot of people were at the theatre when I got there; A quick scan of the crowd told me most of these people were home for the holidays before returning to school.

The majority of them were boyfriends (who didn’t leave town) accompanied by their girlfriends (who were in their first year of post-secondary school) — it was written all over them. The same girls that were only months ago wearing stripped leggings under an oversized hoodie covered in crazy shit were now draped in pea-coats and scarves, while their trashbag boyfriends still wore their trucker hats (which are still cool in Sault Ste Marie where I live) and Fox Racing jackets. Both seemed clueless to the fact that this would probably be their last date together.

Even for Christmas day the theatre was fairly packed; and for a two-hour movie it was a rather breezy time. But that’s all David Fincher; the guy knows how to make a long movie seem at least half an hour shorter than its actual length: keep it moving and keep giving the audience new information (a tactic used in both Zodiac and Fight Club)

Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt do little with their roles, and fall back on composited CGI versions of themselves to do most of the acting, which is a shame and a waste. Pitt’s role as the title character is especially underrepresented — relying almost entirely on narration rather than interaction to emotionally engage the audience.

The script, by screenwriter Eric Roth, felt too much like his work on Forest Gump. It’s basically Forest Gump, if he was physically handicapped instead of mentally handicapped. And then instead of being physically handicapped, he was magically handicapped.

But the biggest downfall of the movie is the ending. As Benjamin grows younger, it gets to a point where they can’t keep using Brad Pitt CGI mutants, and have to use a younger actor. So, as soon as you see the teenage version of Benjamin, you’re pulled out of the movie. It’s no longer the same character. He doesn’t even really look like how you figure Brad Pitt would look as a teenager. At that point the audience doesn’t care. They’re no longer following the story of Benjamin Button – that was Brad Pitt’s story, not some teenagers.

As the credits rolled, we began walking out; passing the same young couples we came in with. The pea-coated girlfriends, who felt newly enlightened because they were in university, defended the movie to their trucker-cap boyfriends, who thought it was dumb and long. After a short back-and-forth, the girlfriends just stopped arguing. Their boyfriends weren’t going to get it. They’d never understand because they haven’t experienced life yet, not like they had anyway. And later on in the night the larger revelation would hit — not only did their boyfriends not ‘get’ the movie, but they didn’t get them anymore either. They would have to break up. She’s in university, she wants to travel, she wants to grow and live life and settle down when she’s ready. Her and her boyfriend were just different people. We all know those girls (btw those girls, fuck you. Die sad and alone — with guys still not ‘getting’ you.)

And then it hits that Benjamin Button is the perfect guy for these girls. While they’re young and stupid, he’s the older, mature, worldly man they feel they can learn from; And when they get old and their vaginas start to dry out (science), he’ll be the bucking young stud ready to fuck them until they orgasm all of the dead, unused eggs out of their wombs (also science).

That said, I still enjoyed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Although it’s not a movie that I would feel the need to see immediately again, it does have a fairy tale air that appeals to both adults and children. Not one of the best movies of the year, but still a great movie.

Film, Hits & Misses, Old Stuff | | 7 Comments »

If only Shawshank was made in the ’80s

Posted on November 26, 2008 by

Old Stuff | | 4 Comments »

Open Letter to Steven Spielberg and Will Smith by Chris Nash

Posted on November 21, 2008 by

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RE: this.

Dear Mr. Smith and Mr. Spielberg,

We all love Oldboy. Oldboy is a great film. In an age of fantastic and unique Asian films that are, for lack of a better term, culturally untranslatable for the masses (I couldn’t see an American version of Battle Heater working out), Oldboy stands out as a body of work which has crossed continents and clearly impressed everyone who has seen it. I mean, it’s a Korean film about imprisonment and incestuous revenge with an amazing hammer fight and it’s #116 on the IMDB top 250. That’s tough to pull off.

And all of that tells us one thing: it’s a great film. As redundant as this may sound, it’s the most perfect telling of Oldboy that could possibly be filmed. And it’s cool. It’s a fucking cool movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I think both of you are cool. Mr. Spielberg, you have made incredibly cool movies in the past and are nothing short of awe-inspiring in what you can achieve. Mr. Smith, you gave my generation their own Cosby Show. And Men In Black. But the fact is, you’re not the same kind of cool as Oldboy.

Jimmy Stewart was cool. Humphrey Bogart was cool. But they weren’t cool the same way Richard Widmark was cool. Richard Widmark was FUCKING COOL. And the difference between the two is something both of you need to realize: when it comes to cool, Stewart and Bogart (you two) took a side, whereas Widmark (Oldboy) floated in the middle.

I could easily see Chan-wook Park (Oldboy’s director) making a “Will Smith-like” or “Spielbergesque” movie, because it’s obvious to me that he can easily hop from genre to genre without making an indelible footprint. But you two have cast your footprints. You thrive in your footprints. And we don’t mind – we want to see you do your thing. But Oldboy isn’t your thing. You’ve been standing in the same spot too long. Mud has dried on your boots. And all you’re going to do by leaving your footprints is track dirt all over the house. In all seriousness, Widmark wasn’t afraid to push an old woman down the stairs and laugh at it. When’s the last time either of you considered it?

And before you two start telling yourselves, “don’t worry, even if our version of Oldboy doesn’t work out, it isn’t going to ruin the original,” let me tell you right now: you’re wrong. And Mr. Spielberg, you have proven my very point this summer in one fell swoop titled Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, you’ve ruined your entire franchise with that film. I can’t watch any of them the same way knowing that one day Indiana is going on an alien adventure. That film has actually made its predecessors worse by proximity. And to commit that same crime with Oldboy would be an unforgivable defamation of art on par with drawing lipstick marks on the cock of Michelangelo’s David.

Don’t remake Oldboy. Nobody’s going to think you’re cool. Stop drawing on David’s dick. He’s trying to kill a giant.

Sincerely,
JUICEBOXdotcom

Old Stuff | | 7 Comments »

An Open Letter to Michael Cera by Suzanne Sutherland

Posted on November 21, 2008 by

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Dear Michael Cera,

Hi, how are you? You always seem like such a likeable, down-to-earth sort of guy that it seemed like a good idea to write you a letter. In the following letter I hope you will find that I have recently enjoyed Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, that I am very excited for the “pre-production” (IMDB) Scott Pilgrim movie, and that I have, as a whole, enjoyed your career in film and television thus far.

First and foremost, I would like to say how much I enjoyed your work in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. I know that there’s a lot of haters out there, but your ability to stick to your charmingly awkward guns in this YA novel-turned heart-warming teen rom-com stole my heart in addition to the $4 I had in my wallet that I was planning on buying pizza with.

Secondly, I would like to express how excited I am that you will be starring in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim movie. I live just up the street from Honest Ed’s, so if you were ever to get hungry while filming this winter you could come by for soup or something. I’ve been watching some of Clark and Michael. It was my interpretation from the show that you enjoy soup. Please say hi to Clark for me, by the way. I saw part of an episode of Greek one time while I was on my way out somewhere. It seemed pretty okay.

The third thing I’d like to focus on in this letter is your previous accomplishments and how much I’ve enjoyed them and/or how much they’ve meant to me. Aside from the aforementioned Clark and Michael, I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed your work on Arrested Development, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, as well as in Superbad. Juno was okay, I guess. I liked it when I first saw it, but the more time people spent talking about it and listening to the Moldy Peaches the more I was all, “Hold on guys.”

In this letter I sought to prove that I enjoy your work, Michael, and that I have a relatively great knowledge of your career in film and television. I feel that my overarching use of the “hamburger essay method” has led to a well-structured and overall good letter. In conclusion, I would like to remind you of my offer for soup, or to otherwise crash on the couch in my living room if the situation were ever to come up (it’s a pull-out!).

Yours ’til butter flies,
Suzanne Sutherland

Old Stuff | | 3 Comments »

REVIEW: Quantum of Solace (Dir. Marc Forster)

Posted on November 18, 2008 by

Bond came out this weekend. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s really your own fault.

Before I get into the review portion of the… review, I want to flip (this is new slang for give, forward or push in your direction) you some numbers. This is the 22nd Bond film, and the second starring Daniel Craig. This is the first Bond sequel (I think? Having trouble confirming this. Anyone?) and it takes place one hour after Casino Royale ends. The film is 106 minutes long, making it the shortest Bond film ever. The film cost $230 million to make. The film was released two weeks earlier in Europe and made a dump-truck of money. That, combined with the North American opening weekend gross of $70.4 million, puts the movie at $322 million worldwide. So far.

Now: Reviewtown.

Quantum of Solace was good. Not as good as Casino Royale, but definitely a fun time. The film is packed with action, and through its monkey-filled-barrel of mindless (yet totally awesome) ass-kickery, I fell in love. Of course, that’s not to say that this is the kind of love you’ll write home to tell your mom about, but love nonetheless.

However, one cannot avoid the fact that this movie wasn’t as good as its predecessor (mom? older sister? not sure where to take this metaphor…) and what Quantum lacked is easy to identify.

Plot.

Sure, there was a plot in there somewhere, but remember that really long string of scenes in the first movie where Bond is playing poker and pretty much ALL THE IMPORTANT STUFF THAT MATTERS unfolds? Obviously we couldn’t have another poker scene, but at least something to perform the same function (ie plot) would have been nice.

All in all, worth seeing if you like ass-kickery.

Film, Hits & Misses | | 9 Comments »

JUICEBOX remembers: Ghost Dad

Posted on November 17, 2008 by

Did you know this was directed by Sidney Poitier?

Old Stuff | | 3 Comments »

REVIEW: Synecdoche, NY (Dir. Charlie Kaufman)

Posted on November 17, 2008 by

The movie came to a close and I turn to my girlfriend. She turns to me and says, rather bluntly, “well, that was a disappointment” [Ed.’s note: HIGH FIVE, LAUREN].

Having heard in advance that Sam and Ashley did not like the film [Ed.’s note: but do very much like Charlie Kaufman], I’m momentarily stunned; ten-thousand thoughts per second all converge on one point: Holy shit; I might be the only person I know who is going to love this movie. I wait 15 minutes before telling her this.

Synecdoche, NY is, in my humble opinion [Ed.’s note: and Ebert’s], a masterpiece [Ed.’s note: but Alejandro really really loves Science of Sleep]. So three out of the four people mentioned so far in this review didn’t like it, but that doesn’t make it any less of a thorough, complex story that will leave you thinking… if you let it. Charlie Kaufman, the newspaper-salesman-turned-film-scribe behind all your favourite movies, including Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, makes his directorial debut [Ed.’s note: when he should have stuck to just writing them] with a film about trying to leave your mark on the world.

A theatre director (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is afraid of death. In fact, he is so afraid of death that it affects every aspect of his life, most importantly it drives his fear of being forgotten. As the story progresses, he is given the opportunity to create something important, and as a result spends his life creating a living play. I’m re-reading that sentence now, and this description is both poor and largely inaccurate. But the truth is that you can’t really sum up this plot the old fashioned way. Rather, let’s think of this in terms of theme.

Kaufman explores themes that he has delved into through each of the films he has written. “Having a better life” begins to explain what he’s doing, but then you have to ask, “A better life than what? Than whom? For what purpose?” The idea of being so afraid to live your own life — because you might fuck it up, because someone might do it better, because you don’t know the path to the greatest happiness — is what motivates Hoffman’s character to create entire worlds.

What makes this film great is that unlike Kaufman’s other films [Ed.’s note: where outside directors can hone in his scope by cutting the fat], he doesn’t use any of the exits he creates for himself along the way [Ed.’s note: because now he can be overindulgent sans overlord]. Kaufman explores this theme through to the end [Ed.’s note: which makes it trip and draaaag]. There are several opportunities for Hoffman’s character to quit in his quest for his own magnum opus, but at the core we realize that he will never be truly satisfied [Ed.’s note: much like Charlie Kaufman, which is the real brilliance of this movie].

And there’s a moral in that.

In a cinematic landscape where most movies you hear about are about explosions and teenagers falling in love with vampires [Ed.’s note: Synecdoche, NY needed more explosions and teenagers falling in love with vampires], what other reason do you need to name a movie as worthwhile?

[Ed.’s note: this movie would have been great if someone else had directed it]

Film, Hits & Misses | | 18 Comments »

BEST FRIDAYS!: with Bruce LaBruce

Posted on June 6, 2008 by

What’s Worst Mondays without a dark and villainous foil? That’s the kind of thinking that forced us to create Best Fridays. So, for all our weekend warrior brethren: Wooooo, T-G-I-F, right? Herein we hope to bookend your awful week by quizzing our previous Worst Mondays candidate about slightly more encouraging things. Every Friday!

We return again to Bruce LaBruce. While he’s probably increased in value on the grand scale of awesomeness since Monday, we won’t blab about him again. And not just because we’re lazy.

Best injury
When I was about ten I was playing with home-made slingshots with my hateful older brother one weekend. They were made of mason jar rings. When I was aiming one, I let go of the wrong end and the elastic snapped back and hit my right eye. It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced.

My iris – or something – filled up with blood and all I could see was white. I thought I was going to be blind, so I was wailing. My mother said, “Don’t worry, you’ll still have the other eye,” which made me wail even more.

On the way to the hospital we had to stop for gas and a bee got into the car, so my mother had to stand there at the gas station with me wailing while my father shooed it out. It was quite a spectacle.

At the hospital they decided not to operate, but instead I had to lay flat on my back for a week, with both eyes bandaged, and not move. This was very difficult for a ten-year old. It was kind of spooky, and I think it scarred me for life, although I did gain back all the sight in the eye. Now a cataract has formed around the scar.

Best historical figure
Oscar Wilde.

Best shirt
My Raspberry Reich t-shirts (modeled here by my Belgian friend Fred).

Best thing to do with $20
Poppers!

Best party trick
One-handed cartwheel. You can see me do it at the end of my movie Hustler White.

Best monster
Otto! You can see him in my new melancholy gay zombie movie, Otto; or, Up with Dead People. Best monster not of my own creation: Liberace!

Best question ever asked of you in an interview
In a recent interview somebody asked me what my favourite Madonna song was and I said, “Where Life Begins.” Later in the same interview they asked me what was the most embarrassing question I’ve ever been asked was, and I said “What’s my favourite Madonna song.”

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | 1 Comment »

REVIEW: Sex and the City (Dir. Michael Patrick King)

Posted on June 3, 2008 by

sexinthecity.jpg

That’s it.

I think I’ll review all movies with poorly-constructed mosaics from now on. Plus give any person who can offer a reasonable explanation for each picture a five-dollar bill and a hearty pat on the back. Seriously. Hit me up.

Film, Hits & Misses | | 3 Comments »

WORST MONDAYS: with Bruce LaBruce

Posted on June 2, 2008 by

At JUICEBOX HQ, we’ve never really had a case of the Mondays because we don’t have real-people jobs. But for those feeling a bit garfield this A.M., feel free to wallow in other people’s most hated things. Every Monday!

For our first edition, we give you Toronto’s own Bruce LaBruce. Well, he wasn’t born here, but we own him just the same. If you’ve never heard of him, you’re probably not all that great. But click and recognize.

In the ’80s, Bruce was a shit-kicking punk rocker, establishing the seminal queer punk zine J.D.s with fellow awesome punk G.B. Jones and publishing it until 1991, by which point they had left an indelible mark on both punk and gay culture. But besides being one of two dudes to literally define queercore (read: give it a name and a manifesto), LaBruce also writes some things, takes some pictures and makes some movies (I think we dropped out of the same film program!).

Since his 1991 feature debut, No Skin Off My Ass, he has become one of this country’s (and probably the world’s, we don’t travel much) most revered cult filmmakers, consistently finding totally new weird ways to combine porno, punk rock, and politics in movies like Hustler White and The Raspberry Reich. Oh, and he co-wrote Screeching Weasel’s “I Wanna Be A Homosexual” which is an “awesomely bad ass” song according to Sam, who really doesn’t care about movies.

Bruce is currently doing the festival thing with his new zombie flick, the most excellently titled Otto; or, Up with Dead People, which had its world premiere at Sundance this past January.

Anyway, we could write a lot of awesome things about Bruce LaBruce but this about hate.

JUICEBOX: Worst day-job
LaBRUCE: After high school for two summers I worked at the Bruce Nuclear Power Development Station to help put myself through university. There were three zones of contamination, so every time you went from a higher zone to a lower one you had to monitor your hands and feet in a machine in case you got a big dose. If you got a dose, they hosed you down. It was just like Silkwood. The second summer there I was on an odd-job crew, which meant occasionally cleaning toilets. So I guess the worst day-job I ever had was cleaning toilets at a nuclear power plant.

Worst haircut
In the eighties I sort of dabbled with New Wave before I went Punk, so I used to shave about an inch over each ear but have it long at the top and at the front. It was very, very gay. Fortunately I don’t have photos of it.

Worst subculture
Log Cabin Conservatives

Worst date
I used to date a hustler whom we called Joe the Ho. We were going out for some months, and one night he asked me to meet him at some crappy dive bar off Dundas Street East. I can’t remember the name of it but it was on about a par with the Canada Tavern. When I showed up he was with a kind of butch-looking girl whom he introduced as his girlfriend. I was totally plucked. I didn’t even know he had a girlfriend. To make things worse, she was in the army! He was supposed to be all lefty and anti-that. We got really drunk on cheap pitchers of beer and I ended up in a fight with him. Later he would become a neo-Nazi skinhead, but that’s another story. Still later, when he had AIDS, he used to work the Oak Leaf Steam Baths in a wheelchair! But that’s also another story.

Worst invention
CGI.

Worst purchase
Powder Blue Crushed Velvet Elephant Pants.

Worst way to die
Premature Burial!

Worst Mondays/Best Fridays | | 10 Comments »

REVIEW: Never Back Down (Dir. Jeff Wadlow)

Posted on May 10, 2008 by

neverbackdown.jpgDo you like The Karate Kid? Me too, kind of. See, I like the story but I hate good acting. That’s why I love Never Back Down. Ralph Macchio is like the coolest child actor ever, and that’s lame. Thankfully, the producers solved this problem in their retooling of this classic story by casting Kevin Williamson, Josh Shwartz, and David E. Kelly’s leftovers. Brilliant.

Another brilliant move was casting a katrillion extras that are about a hundred times sexier than the principle actors so you don’t even notice the shitty performances. But do the performances even matter in a movie like this? No. They don’t. What really matters is if it kicks ass or not. And it does. It kicks ass in a way that makes you feel like it’s the first day of summer and you just know that this is the year you are going to lose your virginity. This movie is seriously all the awesomeness (and all the plot points) of The Karate Kid with thousands of perfect tits in every shot. Come to think of it, this is probably the best movie ever made.

It also promotes a really irresponsible social message about solving all of your problems with violence, which I totally respect. I even hope to one day actually be in a fight. I think I would feel really good about myself afterwards. Never Back Down plays out my ultimate fantasy of being able to kick the shit out of some guy and be totally vindicated in doing so because he messed with my chick or talked shit about my dead father, both of which happen in this film. I think all pussies secretly have this fantasy.

In the case of Never Back Down the antagonist is the guy that killed Marrissa on the O.C. so you instantly hate him and it works great as a cross over for all those who want to see Volchok finally get his up and cummins. I know it sounds like I’m being sarcastic but I’m not. In the future, having seen this movie will be criteria for applying to vote, it’s that important. The future is going to be violent, and sexy, and we will worship mixed martial artists. (Summit Entertainment)

Film, Hits & Misses | | 8 Comments »