July 17, 2012

My Six Months With Tom Hanks

For the first half of 2012 I've been watching classic Tom Hanks films on Netflix. I had an itch for the funny, charming, young Tom Hanks of yore that we all remember. I didn't just dive in and start watching any ol' Tom Hanks movie all willy-nilly. No, there were some restrictions that I set for myself.

1.) It has to be considered a comedy.
2.) It has to be pre-Philadelphia.
3.) It has to be streaming on Netflix.
4.) I had to watch them in chronological order.

The point being I wanted to do a little reliving of the films I've seen (and to find out if they still hold up) and to watch the movies I have missed. I also hopped to see the evolution of Tom Hanks. I wanted to witness how he honed his comedy craft into something that was uniquely his and how he jumped from the crowd pleasing funnyman to becoming one of the best actors of his generation.

The short version of this post is this: Most of his early film do not hold up well.

Now, I'm not a big Bosom Buddies fan but I did like his turn as the lovably degenerate uncle in Family Ties and it was apparent back then that this guy had 80's star potential. So in 1984 (one of the best movie years ever) Tom Hanks starred in to two films, one of which was Splash. Netflix doesn't have Splash streaming, so I watched....

Bachelor Party (1984)
Bachelor Party is full of hooker jokes, drug jokes, suicide jokes and donkey show jokes. I forget if there is any racist or sexist jokes but I'm pretty sure there were. Tom Hanks plays Rick Gassko, a guy who is getting married and whose asshole friends throw him the titular bachelor party. There is a horde of hookers, an all girl rock band an ex-girlfriend, a donkey and a 80's fabulous bad guy whose car gets royally F'd up. I'm making it sound like a better movie than it is. It's movies like this that makes me wonder what went wrong with the Baby Boomer generation. 

I don't remember too much from the film except that it was interesting enough for me to sit through to the end. Notice I called it "interesting" and not "funny." The movie also spends a lot of time in the beginning with Tom Hanks and his buddies at their places of work. I'm not sure why, it doesn't make any sense and their occupations don't come back into play later in the film. If that's your cup of tea then this movie is for you.

As a kid this poster was a permanent resident on the wall of my local video store.

Tom hams it up a lot in this one but it certainly isn't one of his best roles. I'm guessing he was better in Splash. I really wish I could have started with that movie instead. 

The Man With One Red Shoe (1985) 
The Man With One Red Shoe is boring, unfunny and forgettable. In this movie Tom plays average guy Richard Drew, whom the CIA mistakenly thinks is a rouge spy informant and then comedic hi-jinks ensue! It being only one year after Bachelor party, Tom Hanks is actually looking more familiar in this movie. His witty nice guy act that he's known for is taking form here. It's this version of Tom Hanks that you will see on screen for more than a decade. Aside from that, avoid this movie. The only highlights include: Jim Belushi having the best line in the film and Carrie Fischer is in her underwear. But, if Jim Belushi has the funnest line, then it's not a real comedy.

 I told you she was in her underwear. Still not worth seeing the movie though.

Volunteers (1985) comes next chronologically and despite being available on Netflix instant streaming for forever it is was taken off before I could watch it. I could have used a little John Candy, oh well. I'll try and get back to it. So I went on to his next one...

The Money Pit (1986)
It's around this time that I start wondering how Tom Hanks became so famous. These movies were really showing their age. I saw the Money Pit when it originally came out and I remember liking the slapstick scenes of the house collapsing on itself (eg. the bathtub scene) because I was a kid and kids love that kind of crap. Now that I am an adult and understand what Tom and Shelly Long had gotten themselves into, The Money Pit is one of the most stressful comedies ever.

The scene where we Find out Tom Hanks laughing is funny.

That being said it's a pleasant enough film with a few chuckles and a young Joe Mantegna, which is a plus. The Money Pit is the first one where you can see why Tom was a leading comedic actor. The film does take a strange somber turn in the second half that made me wonder why I like it so much as a kid. I guess I never watched past the 45 minute mark. 

It was a very rocky start to my six months of Tom Hanks movies. It does dramatically improve though, in "My Six Months With Tom Hanks, Part 2" post when I cover Nothing in Common, Big, Sleepless In Seattle and more.

"I don't get it."

July 9, 2012

Let's Call It A Comback

"Hello? Yes. Where am I?"

I have been away my dear friends and I have learned much. Like the difference between the attendees of E3 and Comic-Con (One smells like Axe Body Spray the other smells like Funyuns. Guess which one, you might be pleasantly surprised). But during my travels I have neglected my blog and for that I can never be forgiven. So I have taken the dust covers off of TAC, wiped it down, gave it a makeover and I'm sending it back into the game. I hope you are excited because I am back for good and I will be a few times a week.

Seriously though, I am very sorry I've been gone for so long. I've had a number of big life events happen (some are still going on) which has kept me away but I missed the Internet badly. So I have returned to provide you with my quirky reviews, critiques and interesting internet finds. I will be posting as fast as I can write them.

Just to give you a refresher of what you can expect here at TAC, here is a sampling of my past posts:

The New Class of Midnight Movies

Hollywood Is Running Out Of Taglines

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

"Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out..."

January 21, 2011

No Strings Attached: The Movie I Wanted To Hate or Why I Like An Ashton Kutcher Movie

I have consciously not seen any movie with Ashton Kutcher in it since Dude Where's My Car (how do you follow that film?). But curiosity got the best of me and I found myself at a No Strings Attached screening. I am not the desired demo for romantic comedies just by the fact that I'm a guy, and my expectations were low. The trailers didn’t look that good and Ivan Reitman’s last film, My Super Ex-Girlfriend was DOA . Natalie Portman’s streak of good movie roles had to end sometime and I feared this could be her Norbit. I felt No Strings Attached already had a few strikes against it and when you add Ashton Kutcher, well, that’s just the frosting on top of the crap cake. I was more than ready to hate this movie. Well I have to tell you, nobody is more surprised than I am to find out that I liked it.

Now, before you go and revoke my “man card” I can totally defend myself. It may not be an amazing cinematic feat, but as far as romantic comedies go and as far as date movies go, this film is well worth the price of admission. No Strings Attached is surprisingly clever and nuanced. Elizabeth Meriwether’s script is intelligent and insightful. Characters in the movie react and respond like real people. The humor is not dumbed down or meant to gross out and shock. There are a few of jokes that try for that “I’m laughing because I’m uncomfortable” moment but they are few and far between and are completely abandoned in the second half of the movie. It was nice to have Ivan Reitman back in good directing form. I also enjoyed seeing Los Angeles thoughtfully portrayed on film, much like two other recent LA-centric films500 Days of Summer and Greenberg. L.A. is the backdrop to a lot of movies but for someone like me who lives in L.A. you realize very few films are able to capture the essence of the city and strangely No Strings Attached does.

The plot revolves around a guy (Ashton) and girl (Natalie Portman) having a strictly physical relationship, a friends with benefits routine minus the stress and drama a standard relationship entails. Of course things get complicated, Ashton starts to have feelings for Natalie (Shocker!) and their sex utopia is threatened. Recent Golden Globe winnerNatalie Portman does an expectantly great job playing an emotionally stunted workaholic but I was most surprised by the supporting cast. I found myself wanting more scenes with the hilarious Mindy Kaling, Lake Bell, Greta Gerwig and Jake Johnson (who I would bet cash-money is somehow related to David Krumholtz). There are also appearances by Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges and Carey Elwes and it is rather enjoyable to have Luda and Westly from The Princess Bride in the same film. Kevin Kline turns up as Ashton’s aging TV star dad. Didn’t know he was in the movie did you? It would have been nice to know he was in the movie, especially since everybody and their dog loves Kevin Kline. He is the master at being hilarious and charismatic even when his character is a complete ass. Here is some advice for Hollywood: I don’t care how old Kevin Kline is, put him in the damn trailer.

Ashton does a fine job in the film because he falls into a category of what I like to call “The Keanu Effect.” The Keanu Effect is where an actor isn’t necessarily an accomplished thespian, but he also won’t make an already good movie any worse. Ashton can’t make a bad movie better either, but he doesn’t bring No Strings Attached down. During the sex scenes I did have a few “Why is she with him?” moments, which I bet is what most women must have been thinking during Knocked Up.

For a very sex centered movie it doesn’t have enough sex in it. There is a generic sex montage early on in the film but it is definitely not enough. If the movie’s plot is about two “sex friends” doing it, it should have had more “doing it.” No matter how cringe inducing the sight of Ashton and Natalie knockin' boots might be, the film’s title alone calls for more sex in the movie.

My advice? Go see it. If I were you I would go see it with a friend you want to have sex with. It’s worth a shot.

January 16, 2011

Golden Globe Predicitons: The Quick & Dirty Guide

The Golden Globes are on tonight that means it's time to make some picks and place some bets. I am not going to give predictions on every Golden Globes category. I mean, I really just watch the GG to see celebrities get drunk and say inappropriate things on stage. So I am only going to give my quick predictions on the biggies. Ready? 'Cause here we go:

Best Motion Picture-Drama

Who Will Win: The Social Network -The Hollywood Foreign Press will play it safe on this one and give it to the hyped front runner.

Who Should Win: Black Swan- This art-house thriller was able to entertain the average movie-goer and the cinema snob alike. That's not easy to do. I also believe that Black Swan will have a longer lasting impact than The Social Network will.

Also- Where is True Grit?

Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy

If you didn't think the Golden Globes were a joke before tonight, then the nominees in this category must have given you a big clue (Payola).

Nominees include: Alice In Wonderland, The Kids Are Alright, Burlesque, Red and The Tourist.

Dude, seriously, I have no idea who will win because I don't know who payed the Hollywood Foreign Press the most. I guess I am going to go with The Kids Are Alright for the win, but secretly I would love it if Burlesque won because that would be madness. Guests will start flipping over their tables and fists will start flying like in a old timey western.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama

Who Will Win: Natalie Portman- Black Swan

Who Should Win: Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama

Who Will Win: Colin Firth- The King's Speech.

Who Should Win: Colin Firth. I mean, come on, who doesn't love this guy?

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical

In this category Johnny Depp is nominated twice just to make extra sure he would come. This is quite possibly the lamest of all the categories this year so I am just going to stick with Johnny Depp for whatever movies he is nominated for.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical

This will come down to Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, both for The Kids Are Alright. So hopefully at this point Ricky Gervais is drunk and insulting people otherwise the viewing audience will be asleep.

Best Animated Feature Film

Who will and should win :Toy Story 3- Don't be ridiculous, of course Toy Story 3 will win.

Best Performance By an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Who will and should Win: Melissa Leo-The Fighter- Surprisingly, another week category.

Best Performance By an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Who will and should Win: Christian Bale-The Fighter- You can't tell me he didn't look like a complete crackhead.

Best Director Motion Picture

They are most definitely giving this to David Fincher for The Social Network. If they don't give it to him the entertainment news magazines have lied to me again.

For the TV nominations I'm going to make this really quick and dirty.

Best Series Drama: Mad Men

Best Series Comedy: Modern Family

Best Actress: Drama- Katey Sagal- Sons Of Anarchy, Comedy- Edie Falco-Nurse Jackie

Best Actor: Drama- Bryan Cranston -Breaking Bad, Comedy- Steve Carell- The Office

I will also be tweeting during the Golden Globes Live, so come check me out when you are bored and make fun of the Hollywood Foreign Press with me (@gabecal).

December 17, 2010

Don Hertzfeldt: Wisdom Teeth

Here's a new short called Wisdom Teeth by one of my all-time favorite animators Don Hertzfeldt (of Rejected fame). I won't say too much other than it has very little to do with wisdom teeth and a lot to do with...I don't know, just watch it. I predict while watching the video below you will be like "Why am I watching this?" And then you will laugh hysterically. Or not, I don't really care. At least I had a good time.
"This is a pain of unreasonable proportions."

December 16, 2010

Kill The Irishman aka The Best Movie Title Ever

Kill the Irishman is a mobster movie that's based on a true story about an Irishman mobster who blah, blah, blah...Basically it's a movie that, when it comes out March 2011, has the potential to be good but it has two things going against it. Its poster and its trailer.

Here's my reasons why it has the potential to be good:

1) It has a cast of crazy good, and literally crazy, actors including Vincent D'Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken and Vinnie Jones.

2) The title is awesome.

3) It's based on a true story.

4) The opening line of the trailer: "I'm an Irish catholic with the grace of God on my shoulder. If any of these maggots from the so called mafia want to come after me, I'm not a hard man to find." Baaaaaaaad-aaaaaaaaaaaassss.

Reasons why the movie could be bad.

1) The poster looks like someones project from a night class called "Photoshop for beginners and the blind."

2)The trailer features a rap-rock track. Rap-rock. Was it originally made in 1995?

3) How many explosion are there in this trailer? Seriously, because I lose count. They could have dialed that back a bit. Just a bit.



December 10, 2010

Music Video Friday: Eskmo "We Got More"

Here is the music video for "We Got More" from Eskmo. Get a good grip on your head because you are about to loose your mind. When you got a rad video like this who cares if it's electronic music? Not me, my friends, not me.

December 8, 2010

Hollywood Is Running Out Of Taglines

Hollywood is running out of taglines. The creative well seems to be running dry when I noticed that two unreleased movies have very similar taglines. The taglines, as you will see, are simple and slightly different. But for these two soon to be widely distributed films it seem the studios didn't even try at coming up with anything resembling creative or different. Most of the time the tagline of a movie poster is laughable and forgettable but that doesn't mean they have to be.

Here look for yourself:

The tagline for Sanctum is "The only way out is down." and the tagline for Rabbit Hole is "The only way out is through." Seriously.

So, I'm guessing after the team of producers that came up with the respective taglines felt that spending 5 minutes on it was good enough and then they handed their assistants a piece of paper with "The only way through is _____" scribbled on it, then said "Send this to marketing." and took a two hour lunch.

Here are some possible better taglines for these two movies:

The only way out is in.
The only way out is pajamas.
The only way out is Lou Ferrigno.
The only way out is out.
The only way out is your mom.
The only way out is the exit on the right side of the movie screen.
The only way out is a tagline.

Please, come up with your own.

December 6, 2010

Review: I Love You Phillip Morris

A long time ago, in like February, I saw a trailer for I Love You Phillip Morris. I thought to myself, "Self, that could be a funny movie, plus it's based on a true story and you're a sucker for that kind of crap. Ah, self, you are so cool." But then it didn't come out. Eventually after several distribution problems and release delays, the movie finally made it to my small little hamlet of Los Angeles. What in the world could delay a true life con man movie starring Jim Carrey and Ewan Mcgregor? I'll give you a hint: Gay.

Oh yeah. They're gay and this is America so of course it's going to have distribution problems. They even had problems getting the movie made in the first place. Rumor is that possible producers asked for Ewan McGregor's character to be changed from male to female. But that wouldn't work for one teensy reason: It's a true story about 2 gay men you fucking morons! No you can't change the title fucking character, Phillip Morris, into a god damned woman! They meet in prison. How is that going to work if Phillip is a fucking girl? Sheeesh!

Anyway it did eventually get made and then eventually released and here's my review. It's pretty good.

Oh, you want more detail? OK then.

I Love You Phillip Morris is a too-weird-it-has-to-be-true story of a con man Steve, played by Jim Carrey, and his love affair with Phillip Morris, played by Ewan McGregor. I'm not going to go into too much plot description here because the film itself doesn't delve too deep into the details of the story itself. Which I feel is a flaw in a movie that is supposed to have "really happened." The who, what, when, where and whys are secondary to a love story about the extremes a man would go through for the person he loves.

Ultimately it's a bittersweet, gay, screwball romantic comedy. And that's all really. It's not subversive or incendiary. It's not really radical in any way. It's nothing that would warrant the production or distribution problems it supposedly had. The movie isn't Oscar worthy either, except for maybe Jim Carrey's performance. It's just a sweet, quirky, funny movie that just happens to have a lot of blow jobs.

The movie centers on Steve McVicker who is played by Jim Carrey. And by "centered" I mean he is the movie. He carries the movie. Other actors like Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann are barely in it. This was a wise choice by the filmmakers because Steve is a pretty narcissistic guy and it makes sense that the film should revolve around him. I'm not a Jim Carrey fan but this film gives him space to do his Jim Carrey thing and the result is hilarity. The movie reminds you that he is a funny and talented actor. It could have been easy for me to hate the rather selfish criminal character Steve, but Jim fearlessly portrays him with heart and bravado. Ewan McGregor is pretty good too.

So, I recommend I Love You Phillip Morris to you dear blog readers. If you are looking for a funny film about a con man whose love, and actual person, a prison system couldn't hold then you will not be disappointed. I do not recommend this movie to your grandma or to Texans. It makes fun of Texas pretty bad.

December 3, 2010

Back to the Future Video Game Trailer

Below is the trailer for the new five part Back to the Future video game, the first chapter will be coming out this month. (Insert your favorite BTTF quote here. )I am going to go with..."Hey, you! Get your damn hands off her! " -George McFly. I picked this quote because I have to wonder if there will be a farcical incest storyline in the game. Also the faux Crispin Glover voice over in the trailer is creeeeeeepy. But mostly I'm excited to play a game with a Huey Lewis heavy soundtrack. I seriously am.

I am totally going back in time.

December 2, 2010

Well I hope this sticks around for a while: Fake Criterions

Some mad genius has a tumblr account and is making fake Criterion covers of not so worthy movies. I want this to go on for a long time, considering the endless resources of movies they have at their disposal and how much I am enjoying them. Take a look at the ones I have here, quietly laugh to yourself, and then check out more of them here.

Thank god for film geeks. Effen-A, man, effen-a.

November 28, 2010

The New Class of Midnight Movies

There is a gradual escalation for a movie until it technically becomes "cult." Point markers for a film climbing that ladder to a cult like status include: Frat boys constantly quoting it, t-shirts at Hot Topic and eventually a three day festival in its honor.

A midnight showing of your favorite movie is an experience everyone should partake in. It gives the film an electric excitement that it hasn't had since your very first viewing. Being surrounded by fellow fans who laugh and cheer at the exact right moments and who quote along with the actors gets kinda addicting. These movies, either mainstream or indie, that become the headliners at your favorite cinema dives are usually unpredictable. From Rocky Horror to The Room to Donnie Darko to Office Space the only thing these films have in common is the loyal fan base that love these films to death and that want to share that experience with other people over and over and over again.

So what do you think are going to be the new Midnight Movies? What are going to be the new movies that people will recite lines, bring props and dress up as the characters? Throw away any concrete definition of cult movies you might hold. History shows the diversity of these "cult" films is too far and wide to be too selective. I just want to know what you think will be the next Goonies or Big Lebowski. I have started a short list of films that I think have a good shot of becoming the next Clerks and I would love to hear what you would want to add.
Suggestion: Don't name anything that's already on this list.

In no particular order, here are my picks for the new class of midnight movies:

In Bruges (2008)
This film is one of the most quotable movies that I have seen in a long time. The more this movie gets seen the more steam it picks up. This clip is all the convincing you will need.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
Scott Pilgrim was able to combine cinema and video games into one entertaining and visually stunning film. It was pretty funny to boot. Again, it is a very quotable film with a huge cast of characters for people to dress up as. Oh and the music is excellent. People love good music.

Idiocracy (2006)
Mike Judge is like a cult leader. The creator of Beavis and Butthead and Office Space seems to have written the book on how to create a cult hit. And he definitely did it again with Idiocracy. A movie that the studio didn't know what to do with and that didn't fall into any known marketable demographic, is a movie perfect for the midnight masses.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The return of Shane Black did not commence with a big bang. A murder mystery, a strong cast and some great writing didn't get the people in the theaters. But this movie is like wine, or Jon Stewart, it got better with age.

Two things automatically make Kick-Ass a cult movie contender. One: Hit Girl. Two: Nick Cage's acting and mustache. It's also ultra violent and isn't afraid of going way over the top. Like, a child ruthlessly killing dozens of people over-the-top.

The Descent (2005)
One of the best and underappreciated horror films of the last decade The Decent has a loyal following already. If you haven't seen it yet make sure not to see the "American" version (Read: Happy Ending).

Anchorman (2004)
I really shouldn't be telling you how funny this movie is. And I don't know why people aren't dressing up like the Channel 4 news team, roaming the streets of San Diego looking for a fight at this very moment. This movie just needs a little push to reach Lebowski Fest heights, I'm telling you.

The Hangover (2009)
Zach Galifianakis. Nuf said

There are a lot more and I need your help. What other films do you see yourself going to see on a Friday night at midnight with your best friends and throwing rubber snakes at the screen?

November 22, 2010

A Monday Potluck: Spanish Blondie, Pop Sugar Skulls & Tintin Lovecraft'd

Today dear readers I bring you "a little of this and a little of that" from around the Internet.

First up is a little of this: Illustrated pop culture Sugar Skulls! My favorite is below but you can see more of them here.

If I had a "dia de los muertos" Lego set as a kid...I would have been too scared to play with it. I would have hid it in the freezer. I would love one now of course, but I'm too old. Damn you cruel life (fist shake to the sky)!

You can't go anywhere in the Internet these days without stepping in a big pile of Cthulhu and this blog ain't any different. Mashing up Tintin and H. P. Lovecraft is a brilliant idea and these expertly rendered faux covers are all kinds of fun. Have I read H. P. Lovecraft? Of course I have! I'm American aren't I? Have I read Tintin? Of course not! I'm American aren't I?

Last but not least, here's Blondie's "Call Me" in Spanish. You know, just 'cause.

November 17, 2010

TV Show Promo: Episodes

I know that The Green Lantern trailer was leaked but seriously you guys, Joey's back! And this time the show doesn't look abysmal. Episodes is a new comedy on Showtime about Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc trying to get his groove back. Yes, it's the same plot as The Comeback. And yes, I also verbally groan whenever Hollywood decides to make a TV show about making a TV show or a movie about making movies. But this looks like it has some comedy potential. So click that little triangle in the embedded YouTube player and remember how good it feels to ask "How you doin'?"