Saturday, November 29, 2008

Role Models

These movie reviews are getting more and more sparse on the blog and for that I apologize. I had to use dinner out as an excuse to see this flick with my wife. When you go from 2 or 3 movies a week to only 1 or none you start to get a bit desperate. You find yourself capable of eating something as unpleasant as Ethiopian food or my wife's favorite Thai food. I breathed a sigh of relief when she agreed that Applebees would be sufficient, this time.So now to the film Role Models. I really enjoy Paul Rudd, pretty much everything he's been in lately has been really funny. He's got a very natural acting style that's just a pleasure to watch. That seems to apply to this movie as well. Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) work at the Minotaur Energy Drink Company. Danny is the salesman and a sarcastic beacon of negativity. While Wheeler is a free spirited numb nuts who doesn't appear smart enough to sell but just dumb enough to be the Minotaur mascot. The two of them tour schools in their Minotaur Mobile hocking their product until one day Danny loses it and gets a driving violation. The two are given a choice a few months in the clink or community service. This is where they are forced to mentor a child from a Big Brother like organization. Danny gets the nerdy kid Auggie (Christopher "McLovin" Mintz-Plasse), who lives in his own world playing a version of D&D. Wheeler gets placed with a foul mouthed little troublemaker named Ronnie (Bobb'e J. Thompson). Of course no movie would be complete without a romantic angle. Although I think in this case Elizabeth Banks, who plays Danny's girlfriend Beth, is totally underused. She's got good comic timing and is always enjoyable to watch on-screen.This was a fun little film with a little more heart and a little less Dick and Fart jokes. But don't worry it's still very raunchy, my wife said that she wished they had toned down some of the language. I personally thought it was great that we are watching movies that aren't afraid to have kids curse. We were getting a little too PC in the late 90's because we seemed to forget that kids, when adults aren't around, curse like sailors. Little Ronnie is by far the gem of the film laying out the tough guy routine with some wonderful swearing. While Auggie is endearing as he channels the awkward times of a lonely teenager looking for acceptance. Overall the flick was hilarious and raunchy and charming, see if you can deal with those contradictions.

Grade: 4 Buckets

Monday, November 17, 2008


The Bucket salutes:

Famed Sci-Fi Thriller Novelist Michael Crichton.
For departing this world far too soon, and thereby sparing us from having to endure any more atrocious film adaptations of his books.

A True Celebrity Hero.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quantum of Solace

It's been a tough time posting anything lately and for that I apologize. Actually I'm behind on like three other films, it's just been so damn busy. Anyway, I got a chance to see an special early screening of Bond sans the Star Trek trailer, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I have read all of the critics bashing it for being a little too intense and being a bit short on plot, and truthfully they are correct. But even though it was all of those things, watching Daniel Craig go through it was a thrill just the same and I have no qualms of watching this one again. It's darker, brutal and short on sex and clever gimmicks or lines. It is a force of nature, not quite the Quantum of Solace one might expect from the title.This one takes off about an hour after Casino Royale. Bond (Daniel Craig) has Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in custody and M (Judi Dench) wants to start the investigation into this secret organization that has gone unnoticed until now by MI-6. Bond's revenge is focused like a lazer beam as he kills anyone that gets in his way. He also finds a kindred spirit in the very beautiful Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who is looking for a little vengence of her own. Bond digs deeper into the organization known as Quantum to discover what their dasterdly motives are, ironically a little more mundane then past Bond villains but no less vile. The toady Dominic Greene who, as was pointed out to me, is a dead ringer for Roman Polanski. He's less evil and more slimy, kind of reminds me of an oil executive.

Greene unfortunately is not one of the better villains and his master plan is something taken from one of Fleming's books which is not really on a grand scale. I really wasn't bothered by it but Cody and a few others I talked to really wished the plot was a little more heavy duty. I don't think it needed to be world domination all over again but I guess in hindsight it could have been a little more dire. We got some nice homages to past Bonds like Goldfinger and for some reason that Desert hideaway reminded me a bit of the desert stronghold in Diamonds are Forever. The hot women were in short supply in this flick, I must say, You had Olga who I mentioned above and the very bubbly Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), thankfully she was only called Fields in the film itself. But that was really about it, no other hotties and hardly that much skin. A large complaint again from the peanut gallery, but again, it didn't bother me all that much.Honestly I really enjoyed Daniel Craig fufilling my dream of a direct Bond from the book. He is cold, he is merciless and he is deeply flawed. Craig embodies these traits so well. The more I see him cracking someone's skull or beating a man to pulp and then killing him by cutting off his circulation just reminds me even more how silly Roger Moore and even Pierce Brosnan's Bonds were. I do hope that they move onto other adventures that do not include Quantum and they keep the realistic tone and the action. One thing I think I would get rid of though is the Bourne Identity shaky cam during action scenes. I know this is the new thing with action movies but I am starting to get a little tired of it. This is why I loved 300 so much, you can see everything!! I'm not saying slo-mo is the way to go with Bond but, I'm just asking the next director to ease off on the car crash style cinematography I would like to keep the popcorn in my mouth. Perhaps this was a choice by newbie action director Marc Forster (Kiter Runner & Finding Neverland), I think he should honestly just stick to dramas though. They had a kick ass team directing the action but sometimes the in-between scenes needed a bit of polish and maybe a bit more storytelling. He got a break in a sense because Daniel Craig literally could have done this entire movie without speaking a word but his face speaks volumes. This was truly the selling point for me of the film. You could just tell that Craig's Bond is searching for answers, that he is a little lost and maybe at times a little over his head but he keeps pushing through like a bulldozer because he has to know. So let's chalk this one up to the action packed sequel to Casino Royale and get down to Brass tactics for Bond 23. I heard Daniel Craig promise more sex in the next one--so that's one problem solved.
Grade: 3 Buckets

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

5 Best Presidents in Film

Congratulations to President - elect Barack Obama for winning the nomination!!! Now comes the hard part. He has to come through on all of those promises from the campaign, and let me tell you the last guy in office didn't do him any favors. With the Financial Markets in shambles, Jobs are scant, two wars in the Middle East and an angry world that likes to use America as a punching bag. He's got two months to figure out how to tackle these challenges before his inauguration on January 20th. So we thought we'd give him some advice. Which is why we are going to suggest a few (fictional) Presidents to give Obama the encouragement we know he'll need.

1. President Josiah "Jed" Bartlett (The West Wing) "We hold these truths to be self-evident," they said, "that all men are created equal." Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had ever bothered to write that down. Decisions are made by those who show up."

I know I speak for many people who enjoy politics and a good drama when I say that the West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin, was probably the best fictional show about politics ever! That President Bartlet, played by the excellent Martin Sheen, was the greatest fictional president ever! This is a guy who could tell you the detailed history of Macroeconomics in developing countries while simultaneously reciting the U.S. Constitution in Latin. Given the economic crisis I think Bartlett would have liked Obama's calm and cool approach to fixing the problem. It always feels good to have someone in the oval office who is ten times smarter than you, it makes you feel safe. Tack on the fact that he isn't always interested in doing what is politically viable only what is right. It's sad that a fictional President inspired me to do greater things, but damnit all, he did, and he did it with passion and verve. It got me through eight miserable years of the real Bush administration. Just recently I was watching TV and I got that tingle of inspiration again this time from a real person, President-elect Barack Obama. Bartlet to Obama: "It's time to roll up your sleeves Mr. President, Break's over, what's next."

2. President David Palmer (24) "Listen to me. All of you. I know you're not in the same room with me but you can see and hear me plainly enough. Take a good look. Do I seem scared? Am I breaking into a nervous sweat? Am I babbling? At a loss for words? Is my voice shaking? Can any of you look me in the eye and tell me I'm disabled?"

President Palmer, as played by the wonderful Dennis Haysbert, was the second fictional Black President of the U.S. (Morgan Freeman got there first in Deep Impact.) Palmer, like Obama was a former senator, and lawyer and like Obama made history as the first black president. Palmer was tough and pragmatic, he always seemed very cool headed when having to deal with nuclear armageddon and terrorist attacks every 24 hours. Not to mention he always had to reign in that hot head Jack Bauer every few minutes(He does get the job done though). You would have to have a calm demeanor after having a conversation with that guy. Obama could learn a few things from Palmer when it comes to who you can trust. When it comes to disloyal family members or ass hole staffers. You need to find your ace in the hole.

3. President Andrew Shepherd (The American President) "We've got serious problems, and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I am the President."

If you couldn't tell I'm a huge Sorkin fan, well then you haven't been paying attention. Sorkin writes the best political dramas. Period. And he proves it again with the character of President Andrew Shepherd, a single father who gets into hot water for dating an environmental lobbyist(Annette Bening). Michael Douglas' Shepherd is a well spoken and thoughtful leader. He, like Obama, was quick to remind the American people that these are serious times and that we need serious people to do what is not always popular but what is right. Shepherd learned quickly not to screw with the environmental lobby over a crime bill that apparently was not too tough on crime. He is a fervent defender of the Constitution and the ACLU, and rightfully so. Both have been a bit of a punching bag for the ultra-right the last few years since 9-11. We need a new voice going into what will hopefully be better times. So it's always good to keep the American President on your que, Mr. President-elect, in case you need to extrapolate a few zingers for your first State of the Union address.

4. President Jackson Evans (The Contender) "Greatness. It comes in many forms, sometimes it comes in the form of sacrifice - that's the lonliest form."

Jeff Bridges plays a troubled President who is forced to choose a new VP after the death of his old one. Evan's staff does a bad job vetting Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), and the opposition holds hearings on her sexually deviant past. Director Rod Lurie was of course making a social commentary on the skewering of President Clinton and his personal life. But there is a message here especially now as Obama is preparing his transition team and is vetting possible cabinet members. One wrong choice can be political suicide in the age of the 24 hour news cycle. Bridges' normally calm and cool President Evans gets the headache of a lifetime as the strong woman he picked is humiliated on national TV. Evans best advice to Obama, take your pick: Tums or Mylanta.

5. President James Marshall (Air Force One) "Never again will I allow our political self-interest to deter us from doing what we know to be morally right. Atrocity and terror are not political weapons. And to those who would use them, your day is over. We will never negotiate. We will no longer tolerate and will no longer be afraid. It's your turn to be afraid."

I know I have two Presidents that deal with terror, but let's be honest. One of them is tough behind the scenes while the other one is defending his life, the life of his family and the whole damn country aboard Air Force One. Harrison Ford, as President Marshall, could have taught Bushie a thing or two about hitting the terrorists where the sun don't shine. It's good to be firm on your policies regarding terrorism, and it helps to have a Commander in Chief who can whoop some ass if need be. I don't think Obama will necessarily have to do this, god forbid, but it might be helpful for him to take a few hand-to-hand combat training courses. I'm sure the Israeli's would be willing to teach him Krav Maga. It couldn't hurt.

I hope that, you, President Obama, will be able to utilitze the knowledge from these fine (fictional) presidents and from time to time counsel (Netflix) with them when you find yourself hitting a snag. Who knows maybe something they have said or done will come in handy some day.

Stay tuned--in January the Bucket will have the 5 worst Presidents in film just for the outgoing President Bush.