Monday, July 26, 2010


When the first trailers for Inception came out I reacted pretty much like everybody else, comparing it to the Matrix and of course the film that put Director Chris Nolan's on the map, Memento. I got really excited when Chris Nolan acknowledged in an interview that Inception is half Matrix and half James Bond. Which, by the way, is a great concept. But after all of those comparisons the more I saw the trailer the more I actually thought about another film, which some of you may or may not know about called Somewhere in Time (1980) which starred Christopher "Superman" Reeve and Jane Seymour. Yes it's cheesy and more of a Romantic drama--no gunfights in mid-air, but the idea that you could go so deep into a dream that when you come out you can't tell the dream world from the real world was a huge part of that story and it is equally relevant in Inception. But I suppose the better comparison to a past film would be Total Recall. Total Recall also liked to screw with your perception of reality, albeit with bad puns and shaky acting from Ahnuld. Quaid's dreams of being a spy may or may not be real and the film constantly tests our perspective of the unfolding events. Inception's massive box office over the past few weeks have obviously brought the Total Recall remake back to the forefront. Personally they should leave it alone I doubt director Les Wiseman has the first clue how to successfully draw in an audience to tease us about the difference between the real world and the dream world. But that is a whole other conversation. Leo's character Cobb has a similar dilemma and if you aren't paying careful attention you could also lose track of what's real and not in this film.
Roy Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief of a different order. He has the technology to enter a man's dream and extract information valuable to his clients.  He has a team of fellow thieves that, once in the dream world, take on different roles.  Cobb serves as the Extractor, his right hand man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the Point Man of the operation. Eames (Tom Hardy) is the Forger, he can change his appearance to coax the information out of the target. They seem to be a perfectly well oiled machine that is until you get to the kryptonite in Cobb's plan... his wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard). She tends to pop in from time to time to cause problems for Cobb's operations. The worst part is she's a part of his subconscious which means she's nearly impossible to control. After he botches a job while in the mind of Saito (Ken Watanabe), he is discovered by the billionaire mogul and is put against the wall, he cannot go home again unless he does this one job for Saito. But this job has an added wrinkle, Saito doesn't want Cobb and his team to steal anything, instead he wants him to plant an idea in the head of his target called Inception. Cobb needs one final piece to solve this puzzle an Architect to create the dream space to fool the client and that is where he brings in the noobie Ariadne (Ellen Page), a student who discovers she is more gifted in this dream world than anyone thought possible.
I really want to see this flick again. It was truly mesmerizing, it really makes you question the nature of dreams and how important they are, how they have a large part to play in forming our realities and our perception of reality. It also provides the usual brilliant mind fucks that Chris Nolan excels at, not unlike Memento and the Prestige. I really don't want to give too much away in the review but there are so many pieces to this psychological puzzle that it really will take multiple viewings in order to crack the entire mystery. But suffice it to say the pacing is perfect the effects are just extraordinary, I'm really looking forward to seeing this in IMAX. The cast was really incredible. Sorry Cody I know how much you dislike JGL, I know he's probably a dick in real life but he did a great job as Arthur. So there I said it. You throw in Michael Caine into the mix and you have some great support for Leo and the crew, he's not in it as much as I would like, but the few scenes he's in he really ups the intrigue. I have to tell you though this film is not for the casual observer you really have to pay attention as they delve into two or three levels of a dream within a dream. I'm sure I missed something in the beginning that will help answer a few questions that were nagging me when the credits began to roll. So if you haven't had a chance to see this original and beautifully made film then go out and see it as soon as you can.

Grade: 5 Buckets

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Knight and Day

Movie goers are being a little strange this year I have to say. This is now the second action flick I've seen this summer that wasn't as bad as people were saying. Yet if you look at the box office numbers it seems like Tom Cruise's latest is a big stinky turd. I want to assure you that it is not. For starters I have a lot of respect for Director James Mangold. The guy has been pretty rock solid in my view with successes like Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line and one of my favorites 3:10 to Yuma. Knight & Day is his biggest blockbuster to date and it's a really well done fun action flick, honest. Despite what you might think about Tom Cruise he knows how to pick good material and he doesn't disappoint here. Yes it's silly over the top action, first off if you can't enjoy yourself in one of these films then you honestly shouldn't bother. That being said they take an interesting track with the formula. Instead of following from the point of view of the superhero we're actually following the Damsel in distress, Cameron Diaz. Personally I'm not a big fan of hers but she actually isn't too bad here. The trailers actually make her seem more annoying then she is in the movie. This is the summer people, explosions and silliness are par for the course get that through your thick skulls!
June Havens (Cameron Diaz) picked the wrong flight. As she boards her plane back to her native Boston she finds herself in the middle of an Spy Game dictated by super spy, and possibly crazy person, Roy Miller (Tom Cruise). Roy takes a liking to June and it's unclear whether he wants her around just to protect her or because he's fallen for her. They end up traveling James Bond style throughout Europe in order to evade rogue agents and bad ass arms dealers.
The script is pretty funny and Tom Cruise completely takes advantage of it. He's not taking himself seriously and that's a good thing. You can see he's trying to get back in fans good graces by putting on that big grin and hoping that people will just forget about all the couch jumping and silliness about Thetans, but I guess he still has a ways to go before he can reach the top again. But really some of the action pieces here were really great and again it was pretty funny. A little too much Cameron Diaz can spoil some of the fun but really Mangold toned her down a lot. I could almost see him redoing a take and telling her to take the Bubbly annoying shit down a peg or two. There were a couple places here where the action gets stilted mainly to provide a gag about being drugged. The first time they knock her out it's kinda funny but it happens a couple more times and its hard not to give a little groan. Plus you are really interested to see how the hell he's gonna get her out of some of these situations--although a part of me does appreciate the humor in the way they were staged as she tries to stay awake. Not quite sure why Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis and Paul Dano are in this movie but they do ok. Although I'm starting to wonder why Viola Davis has to keep taking these roles in Law Abiding Citizen and in this one. She seems to be wanting to up her cred in tough action flicks, I think she's a great actress but she needs to stop. Really, Viola,, please stop. Also this role was really beneath Sarsgaard too, maybe he just needed a paycheck, but he kinda needs to get back to his roots too.
Anyway it's a fun flick, terrible title, but fun flick and it's truly a fun time for all. So if you don't get a chance to see Predators this coming weekend go and see this one instead.

Grade: 3 Buckets

The Good Guys

It's been a while since I've given a shout out to a show which should tell you something right off the bat. I kind of stumbled on this show by accident when I was flipping around on Hulu. I vaguely remember seeing the teaser trailer earlier this season during Human Target, which is also a pretty fun show by the way, and I remember doing a double take when I saw Bradley "Josh Lymon" Whitford doing somersaults over a Mustang sporting aviator glasses and a Magnum P.I. stash. I was intrigued but it didn't specify when it was airing, just sometime in the summer. So of course it was forgotten until a few weeks ago I was browsing around Hulu and I found it again. I watched the first couple episodes and I found myself laughing pretty hard. In a way it fits in with shows like My Name is Earl and Starsky & Hutch but just when you think the redneck silly shtick goes too far they ramp up the action to reveal a different kind of show. The dialogue is pretty darn great and the pacing is fun--keeps things rolling on.
The Good Guys series follows two very different cops. Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford), a drunken mess of a cop who still thinks he's living in 1985. He's inept and afraid of computers (which makes for some funny scenes) and he's always trying to get poon no matter if he's on or off the clock. He's old school but he retains his cop instincts which makes for an entertaining and funny setup. His partner, Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks), is the opposite. He's smart and precise but a little green. Actually it' kind of eerie how much Hanks is like his pop. He sounds exactly the same and makes the same kind of faces--it'll freak you out at first. You think you might be watching Dragnet, "Hey where is Dan Aykroyd..." Then he moves his face again and it's gone. Weird. But he plays a pretty good straight man to Whitford's looney Dan Stark. The reason he's partnered with the train wreck in the first place... guy's got no head for politics. No one at the top wants to promote Bailey cause he makes them look like idiots, sort of reminded me of Hot Fuzz. In fact that is a perfect example. If they made Hot Fuzz an American TV show then it would totally be this fucking show.
So check this one out if you find yourself hot and bored this summer, save it from cancellation. Apparently it's not doing so hot in the ratings. It aires on Fox Friday at 9PM.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Red White and BAD: Top 5 Misguided Patriots

What makes a great villain? Oftentimes the best villains are the ones that think they are actually heroes. These anti-heroes are always tripped up by the boy scout who has to be even more good, or weak, depending who you are talking to, sending these guys sulking and griping about how the greater good has been sullied and innocents will now surely die in large numbers. Well today on this Fourth of July we salute these misguided patriots. Sure their methods are despicable and slightly underhanded, but they care damnit! They are Americans and they will put a boot in your ass! So from all of us here at the bucket have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

5. President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) "24" - "This Whole Thing was meant to make our country safe, stronger. To protect our interests." -Sketch by Dezi Sienty

President Charles Logan always seemed to be an asshole even before you knew about his whole season 5 cover up conspiracy regarding the nerve gas. This guy is the worst kind of patriot he drapes himself in the flag as much as possible especially when he's up to no good. It's for the greater good he tells himself and his disbelieving wife. His spiral of bad intentions happens because of his own inability to man up and make the tough decisions on his own. To top that off the guy has a knack for trusting the wrong kind of people like his Chief of Staff Walt Cummings. After Jack puts the smack down on the former President he weakly begins to admit his culpability for the crime and becomes a born again Christian over the affair. It's unclear if he truly has learned his lesson, but that didn't stop him from being one of the most frustrating big bad's on 24. Gregory Itzin plays this guy to perfection, oozing contempt and weakness all at the same time.

4. Adrien Veidt aka. Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) "Watchmen" - "I've made myself feel every death...See every innocent face I've murdered to save humanity." - Sketch by Ori Ayalon

So you may be asking why him? Sure he's not a military man and he has a whiff of a British accent, how does he rank as a patriot gone bad? Well for starters Ozzy is an American, it's just Matthew Goode wasn't so adept at hiding his accent. Ozzy is thought to be the smartest man in the world and the combination of his smarts and fighting style make him a deadly adversary. He was once an acclaimed hero who is now totally obsessed with world peace. And if you've seen Watchmen then you know he'll do whatever it takes to get this peace even if it means murdering millions of people. Now I did consider putting the Comedian, Edward Blake, on the list. He of course represents the Ultra-Conservative hero to Ozzy's ultra-Liberal. This is the guy who wraps himself in the flag. The reason Blake ends up on the cutting room floor, he just ain't bad enough. As terrible as the Comedian is by the time the story is over we learn that he was actually trying to stop the crazy peace-nik from doing what he monologued he would do. Of all the villains on this list this guy is the only one to succeed in his dastardly plan. In the end Ozzy becomes the liberal stereotype, smug elitist asshole who looks down on humanity for it's perceived sins. With one exception, Ozzy ain't no pussy.

3. Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel, USMC (Ed Harris) "The Rock" - "You've made a terrible mistake, and more of our brothers have died in vain. Damn you for forcing me into this position." - Sketch by Corey Breen

General Frank Hummel, decorated war hero beloved by his men, betrayed by derelict politicos who were more interested in saving a buck than giving him support. He takes on a desperate mission to teach them a lesson about honor and duty and patriotism, unfortunately it kinda blows up in his face. It was always hard to think of this guy as a straight up villain and it is a little sad when they take him out, but at least he goes out on the side of righteousness. But his very bad ass break in to get the toxic nerve gas and later his assault on Alcatraz with a calculated strike team was pretty damn impressive. The man has brass ones that is for sure.

2. Captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) "Crimson Tide" -

"All I ask is that you keep up with me. If you can't then that strange sensation you'll be feeling in the seat of your pants will be my boot in your ass!" - Sketch by Ian Glaubinger

Crimson Tide is by far one of the most underrated Blockbusters in history. This flick gets no recognition. Script doctored by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tony Scott. Yes, this would be implausible on a Nuclear Submarine but the disagreement is a good one to have with the public. Captain Ramsey is a good commander, he's arrogant and sarcastic but he follows the rules by the book. If he's told to launch Nuclear Missiles your damn sure he's going to do it without hesitation. His X-O Hunter, played by Denzel Washington is smarter and he understands full well the cause and effect of nuclear war. And he ain't budging from his point of view either. Their clash is almost biblical, but even though Ramsey is on the wrong side of history with this debate he surely demands your respect when he takes responsibility when he's wrong and owns up. Sure he's a bit of a bastard but he's a true American war hero.

1. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) "A Few Good Men" - "...I'm gonna rip the eyeballs out of your head and piss in your dead skull! You fucked with the wrong Marine!...You fuckin' have no idea how to defend a nation. All you did was weaken a country today. You put people's lives in danger. Sweet dreams son."

Nothing and no one can top Jack Nicholson in this Oscar winning role as Colonel Nathan Jessup. It's truly hard to hate this guy, sure he's full of himself, he's a sexist SOB dripping with contempt. But highly quotable. It took me at least two hours mulling over quotes before I decided on the one above. There are so many, most are just funny as hell, all are biting and reveal a man of many layers. As his defense quickly shatters at the end of the movie, when wimpy sniveling Daniel Kaffe (Tom Cruise), appears to have finally snagged his white whale, the Colonel hits him with the ultimate guilt trip. He doesn't look away he stares at the young man with daggers in his eyes and he believes without a shadow of a doubt that his actions, while certainly immoral, somehow saved lives. He represents a cautionary tale to all those who serve in a war zone that Commanders must always remember who they are fighting and what they are fighting for.