Thursday, July 30, 2009


Today is my birthday (one year left before the big 3-0) and my amazing wife hooked it up with my first Blu Ray player. Along with it came Watchmen, Coraline, and Miami Vice. BIG TIME! Can't wait to set it up tonight.

I've got some DVD reviews coming up for Notorious (very solid) and Waltz with Bashir (an uncompromising masterwork).

Also, I'll be doing some sort of summer movie wrap up over the next few weeks with reactions to all of movies I caught these last few months. There are still some flicks of serious (and less serious) interest over the next few weeks, including: (500) Days of Summer, Funny People, G.I. Joe, District 9, Julie & Julia, Inglorious Basterds, Away We Go, G-Force, Thirst, The Time Traveler's Wife, and The Final Destination: 3-D.

And not that it really matters, but after taking his normal critical beating, Michael Bay is once again laughing all the way to the bank as his latest effort (and magnum opus), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, has amassed (as of today) $381 million, landing it at #9 all-time domestic. It'll probably eek its way to $400 million domestic. Its worldwide total stands at $796 million, so look for it top top off at roughly $850 million worldwide when all is said and done. I bring this up not because I personally care, but because I find it so funny that Bay pretty much automatically summons hate from his critics (in many cases probably sight unseen) and yet, his movies always DESTROY the box office. It's yet another instance of "critics" being incredibly out-of-step with the general populace. And it's not just the dumb-fun-popcorn-movies; I could list any number of smaller, more challenging films that critics have dismissed as garbage but that people have warmly embraced.

It's all about enjoying yourself and having fun. Life's too short and too unpredictable to always be bitching about something, especially something as intrinsically fun as movies.


Joel said...

Happy Birthday, Nick! Awesome about the BluRay. I got a PS3, which is ironically the cheapest BluRay out there at 400. And I'm melting at the prospect of Watchmen in BluRay. Need to buy that...

Pretty much the same anticipation list as you have, minus G-Force which I saw and plan to possibly see again this weekend (loved the spirit of it above all) and Thirst, which probably won't ever play here in Dallas. Funny People is tomorrow (possibly). I can't wait to see Inglourious Basterds. Hopefully opening day for that one, if I'm not at my local IMAX seeing fifteen minutes of Avatar. Never seen a Tarantino film in my life, so I'll start with the one already coming three weeks...makes sense.

And that's truly ironic about Transformers 2. I couldn't see a flaw in the movie (at least not one that mattered in the long run) and can't understand the hateful reviews. Bay needs to make a third one, like, now. These will never get old. Unless he adds five more villains in one movie. Then it will get old.

Actionman said...

I'd love to see Bay FINALLY make a smaller film, just to see if he's capable, but yeah, get back to them fighting robots ASAP!

You must rent Pulp Fiction immediately. Like...drop what you're doing...and get that movie. I am a huge QT fan. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp, and Jackie Brown are perfect films. Kill Bill 1 and 2 were both fantastic. The only one he's made that I didn't connect with was Death Proof. As for Inglorious, I think it looks cool, but for some reason, I am only cautiously optimistic about it. The trailers haven't WOW'ed me like the trailers for Kill Bill did. Regardless, I'm there when it opens in a few weeks.

I am expecting a fun kiddie movie with G-Force, nothing more, nothing less.

Flores Hayes said...

Happy Birthday!!!
Flor (

I am Jack's complete lack of originality said...

Michael Bay is a hack. He's not talented. His films make money for the same reason you can buy oxygen in a can at 7-11 and Michael Jackson's death was ten times the big deal Bob Dylan's will be.

The American public is stupid, lazy, and can't be bothered to think for themselves. They are told to like Transformers and Megan Fox, so they abide. If you told these same people that spreading semen on their face would prevent wrinkles they'd follow up on that.

Those of us that hate Transformers and Bay don't hate popcorn movies. We don't mind turning our brains off, kicking back in an ice cold auditorium, and getting stupid for two hours. It's a dangerous and silly presumption to say otherwise.

I like jerking off (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Terminator, Speed, Iron Man, Dark Knight, the first Johnny Depp Pirates film, Ocean's 11, etc...) I just don't like having the jizz shot in my face (TF1 and 2, GI Joe, The Mummy series).

Actionman said...

Hey Jack -- I love the fact that you read this blog, or just happened to stumble upon it, because it seems that this post really riled you up and brought out some interesting psychoanalysis.

I think you are extremely wrong about pretty much everything you said in your comment, but I appreciate your humor, time, and passion.

Michael Bay makes fun, dumb, special-effects spectacles. You either like that sort of thing, or you don't. Me...I happen to adore his work; he's the best of the best at what he does. Nobody even comes close. Maybe it's because there's a huge 8 year old inside this 29 year old's body, but whatever the case, I happen to believe that Bay's ultra-stylish visions have become an art-form. It's like he's tapped into the fantasies of anyone who smacked their Transformers toys together in their playroom when they were little kids. He's bringing childhood day-dreams to life.

Would I prefer to watch a Malick film or Mann film or a western from the 50's that I've never seen? You bet. But for the two and a half hours that Bay provides an audience every couple of years, I get to sit back, relax, and project myself into his action/sex/macho fantasies and I get to temporarily imagine what it might be like to discover an alien robot species, run from exploding vehicles, get it on with Megan Fox, and do it all in slow-motion, with flawless skin, and driving away from the scene in a Ferrari.

Again -- this type of idiocy isn't for everyone. Maybe my parents gave me too many toys and action figures when I was growing up. Who knows? All I know is that it's a fun way to kill some time in the summer.

What I do know is that your cheap, obvious, and dismissive remarks (the same remarks EVERY Bay-hater makes) only reveal more about yourself, than it does about my sensibilities. Where is your sense of fun? Where is your sense of wonder? It doesn't have to be No Country for Old Men or The Lost Weekend or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly all day long...does it?

If you don't see the genius in Michael Bay's composition, framing, staging, and editing, I don't know what to tell you. His eye is unmatched when compared to all of the other action filmmakers working today. He's fuckin' pioneered the face of the modern action film. His background in commericals and music videos taught him the beauty and value of strong visual storytelling, something that I find lacking in many, many major releases. Film is a photographic medium by nature; why do people always crucify filmmakers for making everything look gorgeous?

Oh, and your pre-occupation with semen is disturbing (but also funny).

I am Jack's complete lack of originality said...

"he's the best of the best at what he does. Nobody even comes close."

Somebody out there is the best there is at making cigarettes, or heart attack inducing fast food burgers. It's not always a good thing to be the best.

" Where is your sense of fun? Where is your sense of wonder?"

Speed, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Indiana Jones, Batman Begins, Batman, The Dark Knight, Superman I and II, Spiderman I and II, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Air Force One, OCean's 11, Iron Man, Tropic Thunder, all Apatow directed films so far, all things Joss Whedon, Jaws, Jurassic Park, the list goes on and on to the break of dawn...

Too many excuses are made for the guy. That's the problem I have.

It's a Bay film, so leave out the coherent storyline, the quality dialogue, the top notch acting. Mediocrity everywhere except for the special effects.

But hey, nothing personal. I like your blog and think I'll stick around.

As for my semen obsession, I'd rather not look too much further into that.

Joel said...

Actionman, you're right on the money here. Bay's only failed hugely once (with Armageddon) but that's less with his direction than the fact that Deep Impact came out the same year and blew Armageddon out of the water. Every other movie he's made (even the slightly iffy Bad Boys II, which I couldn't recommend but also couldn't find a reason not to) have been exercises in purely visual style. They DEPEND on the audience's knowledge that everything they see is as stupid as any movie that has ever come out. Bay exists as a sort of abstract artist for the film world, making things that are supposed to "mean something" but in all probability don't.

When I sat in the IMAX theater watching Transformers 2, I was transfixed, not because of dialogue or characters or story or even much of a plot, but because Bay never lets up. Not even when his movies are past 2.5 hours do I care, though I should in theory: Who would want to sit through 2.5 hours of battling robots if the movie they are in was directed by McG or Stephen Sommers? Bay is, above all, a "garbage artist." He makes trash. He blows shit up really fucking well. He KNOWS this. One of his favorite movies, apparently, is Hot Fuzz, which gloriously parodied his 360-degree upward turn that pins me to my seat every time. He's aware of his reputation, and he's aware of WHY he has that reputation, explained in the next paragraph.

Jack, you, along with every critic that hates Bay, have misplaced the difference between "film" and "movie." A film is something that transcends the medium. No Country for Old Men, Children of Men, Assassination of Jesse James, even a summer blockbuster like Dark Knight or Minority Report--all are examples of directors that use every tool in their arsenal to make meaningful, deep, sometimes penetrating motion pictures; they are NOT meant to entertain, but to allow the viewer a more mature knowledge of the medium so that they're not filling their head with the idea that every movie has to have effects.

A movie, on the other hand, is something like Transformers or Wanted or the Star Wars films, that is purely of entertainment value. It is my opinion (and Nick's, obviously) that these are just as important as "films." It's not a question of popcorn value; it's a question of whether we, as humans or critics, can allow the art form to be extended to those films that, like Nick so eloquently puts, brings out the 8-year-old in us.

If you can't see the difference, then I'm sorry. But there is one. There always has been. Bay has reformed cinema just as much as PT Anderson or Chris Nolan or Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese or even Francis Coppola. He's taken the art form of movie entertainment, shaken it up, and produced something nearly operatic in the nature of the action genre. Apologies if you can't see the distinction.

Actionman said...

We'll just have to agree to disagree. Bay does mindless fun better than most. I get that he's a love him or hate him type filmmaker. And I'm definitely not making any excuses, because no excuses need to be made. The guy has a specific talent, and many people are jealous/envious of this fact, or simply don't have time for special effects movies, which is all he ever does.

Thanks for reading, thinking, sharing, and commenting. I'll go check out your site as well.

I am Jack's complete lack of originality said...


Look again at the movies I listed as loving. Spiderman. Star Wars. Back to the Future. Lethal Weapon. Die Hard. Indiana Jones. Iron Man.

I think it's pretty clear that I know the difference between a movie and a film. I think it's pretty clear that I can enjoy a movie just for what it is, without attaching some unncessary depth to it.

I'll even cop to liking The Rock, and parts of Armageddon.

It's not action movies I don't like. It's Michael Bay action movies I don't like.

If we can get past that, then maybe we can discuss his films more seriously. But this seems like a typical response by Bay defenders, to assume the Bay haters can't enjoy a film.

If I hated The Hangover (I didn't) does that mean I can't enjoy a good comedy? That I can't let myself laugh? OR maybe I just don't like Todd Phillip's brand of humor (I actually do).