Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Well -- it happened -- Michael Bay FINALLY made a movie that I didn't necessarily ENTIRELY LOVE on the first go round. Now, don't get me wrong -- there's LOTS to admire and gawk at and be blown away by in Dark of the Moon, Bay's latest piece of shiny, ultra-calculated, red-blooded, action-movie-idiocy. Some TRULY EPIC SHIT goes down, done in a way and on a scale that NOBODY ELSE could possibly do. The last hour, where downtown Chicago is LAID TO WASTE, is indeed amazing and totally mindboggling and all the other hyperbole you wanna throw at it. Pure insanity. Worth the price of admission alone. It's such a ridiculous mix of live-action, CGI, real stunts, and pyrotechnics that you just sorta stare in disbelief. The city of Chicago gets ANNHILATED. It's quite literally the equivalent to 1,000 9/11's in the sense of the destruction. The stuff in the skyscraper that's glimpsed at in the trailer is every bit as RETARDED/EXCITING as you'd think it is. All of it is SUPREMELY OVER THE TOP and NONE OF IT can be taken seriously in any sense of the word. There's one two minute sequence where it's one money-shot after another, Bay just going totally fucking BATSHIT CRAZY. It's Michael Bay's World, and we're all just living in it.

Now, having said that, here's the problem, of which there are a few. The comedy bits were DREADFUL. The first 90 minutes are a major SLOG to get thru. Say what you want about Revenge of the Fallen (the second film), but that movie was 2 hours and 30 mins of PURE ACTION, which I totally and unabashedly LOVED. With Dark of the Moon, you get a really cool pre-credits, revisionist-moon-landing-history-lesson and then the movie settles into this strange semi-trance for roughly 80 mins were essentially NOTHING HAPPENS and people just fire exposition back and forth at one another. And then there's the comedy stuff, all of which is stupid, unfunny, and totally aimed at people with the humor barometers of apes. I know Bay is a goofy, corny guy, but holy shit some of this stuff is so lame and silly. And some of the musical choices -- the pop songs -- TOTALLY ATROCIOUS. Cringe-worthy. Steve Jablonsky's pounding musical score is all well and good as far as these things go, but Bay's choice in soundtrack cuts is really mid '90's and total cheese ball. The only two minor action beats in the first 90 mins (one bit cleverly set at Chernobyl and the other a crazy freeway rampage) were fun, but honestly, I didn't pay $12 to see a shitty comedy, Shia overacting, and terrible scenes with McDormand, Jeong, Turturro (who is in another movie ENTIRELY) and Alan Tudyk, who is SUPREMELY ANNOYING. There's even a moment when Bay used STOCK FOOTAGE from The Island during the freeway sequence -- I know this because of how many times I've watched the jet-bike chase scene in The Island. He even shot some of the freeway stuff in Dark of the Moon in the same exact style as The Island.

And then there's the 3-D. I saw the film in Real-D 3-D, not Imax 3-D, for a few reasons -- I don't like the oversize Imax glasses, my theater's Imax screen is a Fauxmax screen (it's nice and big and the sound is loud but other theaters in the complex are bigger), and the movie wasn't shot with Imax cameras (just regular 3-D ones). The screen was bright and it didn't look dark and dingy. So how did the format apply to the action? In a word -- HOLY SHIT. This BLOWS AWAY the stuff in Avatar. Cameron laid down a foundation and Bay brought it all up a notch. The depth of field during the action scenes is extraordinary, and they make great use of the 3D at all times during the fights -- glass, smoke, metal, you name it and it's coming at you. Still, I'm VERY CURIOUS to see the film in 2-D so that I can compare it to the other two films, as they were both 2-D efforts. The last hour of the movie is ONE MASSIVE WAR-STYLE BATTLE, and during this stuff is when the 3-D is put to the test.

And one last thing - as cute as this British chick is, she's got NOTHING on THE FOX.

So, all in all, I was definitely entertained, I was definitely impressed, but I'd at the moment, I'd rank the series in the order of their release. I will certainly see it again just so I can relish in the sheer LUNACY of the Chicago invasion. But I'm glad that Bay is done with the Giant Fighting Robots; hopefully he can get back to something more real-world rooted like The Rock or another Bad Boys movie. He's threatening to do his "little $20 million dark comedy" which I think is a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE idea; Bay is NOT suited to comedy and should stick to what he knows best -- THE IDEA OF MOVIES AS THEMEPARK RIDES.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011


Early word is suggesting that Bay has topped himself, yet again...

Friday, June 24, 2011


Lots of options.  Still haven't seen Green Lantern (I sorta want too but sorta don't at the same time...), I want to check out Midnight in Paris, Bad Teacher looks funny (but would likely be a strong Netflix), and The Trip, which I don't think opened theatrically in my area yet, might be available On Demand (need to check the listings).  Not sure what I'll see or when I'll see it but I'd like to get to something...

From Netflix, I still have Another Year sitting on the coffee table.  Need to watch it soon...

Thursday, June 23, 2011



So you may have heard that during Terrence Malick's haunting new film The Tree of Life that some dinosaurs make an appearance.  But being a Malick film, the reveal of the dinos happens in such a simple, straightforward, and unflashy way that it's hard to imagine any other filmmaker handling the same beats in the same fashion.  Whereas most directors would go for the cheap and the obvious (clashing dinos, a chase scene, something violent, etc), Malick instead focuses his gaze on something peaceful, almost meditative.  The dinosaur scenes last roughly 3-4 minutes out of the entire movie, and occur during the cosmic and trippy "creation of the universe" sequence, which itself lasts roughly 20 minutes out of the nearly 2 hour and 20 minute run time.  The camera fixes an upward gaze on some Jurrassic-style trees, and then, there in the foreground, is a peaceful planteater, smelling the air, having a nosh, and basically just straight chilling.  It's a moment of dinosaur-zen, and it's fucking spellbinding.  In a previous scene, you're treated to a long, lingering view of a wounded Plesiasaur, which is a magnificent sight.  For anyone as blown away by water-based dinosaurs as I am, this 30-second bit will tantalize your headspace for days.  And then, there's the scene that many people are discussing in reviews, the one where one dinosaur steps on the head of another, wounded dinosaur.  The camera pans over a babbling brook, and in the foreground, there is a hurt dino, still breathing, but obviously down for the count.  Then, out from the brush, a predator-style dino appears, and it runs over to the one that's injured.  Then, suddenly, the stronger of the two places its claw-foot on the head of the suffering creature...then releases....then pushes down again...then releases...then runs away.  No death blow.  Nothing overly dramatic.  Just a moment between two prehistoric animals that might suggest something in the way of mercy or understanding.  Or maybe not.  It certainly ties into certain thematic elements that are at play during the 1950's domestic scenes with Pitt and Chastain and the children, but on its own, it's yet another instance of Malick giving the viewer something to chew on.  Whatever it means (or doesn't mean), it's one of many tiny moments in an otherwise epic film which all add up to something special.  "Thought provoking" is a phrase that seems to describe The Tree of Life the best, as, whether or not you like it, you can't deny that a massive level of thought and feeling went into the making of it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


3-D Bayhem awaits...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Really looking forward to watching this one again...

Monday, June 20, 2011


Bay's most underrated flick, and the only one to bomb in the states at the box office (though it was huge overseas).  Major love for the jet-bike/train-wheel sequence.  Haven't seen it in a long time so looking forward to giving it a rewatch.




Friday, June 17, 2011


The Tree of Life opens in my area this weekend.  Gonna see it again on Saturday (that's the plan as of now...)

Green Lantern opens as well this weekend; I will see it but I am in no rush.  I would have been in a rush had the critics not wiped their asses with the film.  We'll have to see...

From Netflix is the latest Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky) British dramedy Another Year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This Friday, The Tree of Life opens in my area.  I'm beyond excited.  After making the trip to NYC two weekends ago, it's been damn near impossible to stop thinking about the film and all of its themes and ideas.  I firmly believe it to be one of the greatest filmed accomplishments ever created, a work that could only have been created by a master, a true piece of art that will forever be open to interpretation.  I will be discussing aspects of the movie in random bursts over the next month (as the viewings accumulate...) and I will always warn of any potential spoilers.  The Tree of Life is as singular a film as I've ever seen, up there in terms of overall privacy with The Fall, The FountainEnter the Void, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Like those other titles, The Tree of Life is an auteur-driven piece of filmmaking, a movie created by an artist who isn't interested in satisfying the conventional demands of Hollywood storytelling and franchise building.  It will likely turn off and frustrate many, many viewers.  But those who go into it with an open mind will likely be rewarded over and over again.  It's the rare movie that stands as almost a completely subjective experience; no two interpretations of the film are "wrong," or necessarily "right."  Malick shatters all regularly accepted notions of what "going to the movies" is all about; this is a work that transcends the medium, a film that goes above and beyond, and in the end, shows us a new way of presenting filmed entertainment.  I'm dying to encounter the film on multiple occasions.  Let the games begin...!


3-D Bayformers make me happy...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011



It's gonna sound like a warzone in my house later today.  Movies like this one are the reason Sony Surround Sound was invented.

Monday, June 13, 2011


My second viewing is getting closer...

Sunday, June 12, 2011



X-Men: First Class was decent. I loved the Kennedy-era/60's period setting, Michael Fassbender tore it up as the young Magneto and Kevin Bacon clearly had fun as the villain. But much of it felt like a dork festival, and some of the CGI work was way below average. Also, what's it with every single Fox tentpole looking like it was shot in some low-rent Canadian forrest?  I got a chance to see the ABSURDLY AMAZING trailer for David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo infront of X-Men. Many people in the theater seemed scared. AMAZING Karen-O cover of Immigrant Song. The theater had the sound cranked so it was really something else.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life

J.J. Abrams' Super 8
Joe Wright's Hanna
Paul Feig's Bridesmaids
George Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau
Duncan Jones' Source Code
Gore Verbinski's Rango
Todd Phillips' The Hangover: Part II
Jonathan Liebesman's Battle: Los Angeles
Justin Lin's Fast Five


Super 8 = INSTANT CLASSIC. A great evocation of late 70's/early 80's Beard-movie-magic with nods to countless genre staples (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Explorers, Poltergeist, The Goonies, The Monster Squad, Gremlins, and E.T. all come to mind) . Terrific cinematography from the great Larry Fong, great production design, an exhilirating score, and engaging performances from all the kids, with Elle Fanning being the obvious standout.  As silly and as outlandish as the movie gets, it always retains its heart, and that goes a long way.  This is the rare case when a movie has been overtly sentimental and I didn't have a problem with it.  At all. It's not a perfect movie but it's immediately engrossing and by the end completely satisfying.  Kyle Chandler is now a movie star, which is great.  Lots more to come...


I love that this film is directed by Joe "The Rocketeer" Johnston.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Super 8 on Saturday.  Looks totally brilliant and it looks like Vintage Beard.

X-Men: First Class on Sunday.  It look solid...

From Netflix is the pot-smuggling documentary Square Grouper, from the director of the awesome coke-fueled documentary, Cocaine Cowboys.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is easily one of the best movies ever made, certainly one of the most ambitious, and like nothing else out there. The big-bang and creation of the universe and dinosaur sequence was the very definition of hypnotic -- so amazing I nearly wept. I cannot believe how much of a fucking genius Malick is. We’re all retards compared to this guy.  I don't know what's worse -- having never seen The Tree of Life at all, or having seen it, and not being able to convienently see it again for a period of at least two weeks. There are f'ing DINOSAURS in this movie. Malicksaurs. Emmanuel Lubezeki for President of Ridiculous Cinematography. Was the ENTIRE FILM shot on a stedicam with a wide angle lens? OVERWHELMINGLY GORGEOUS. Seriously -- I am not even sure I comprehended everything that was being hushed/whispered/voice-overed as I was sitting slack-jawed staring at the VIBRANT, ALIVE, and TOTALLY ORGANIC camerawork on display, all being done with natural light, and, seemingly, between the hours of 5-7am and 4-6pm.  I am going to be able to think about nothing else for the coming weeks.  When the film opens in my hood I'll be seeing it countless times.  This blog is going to get littered with TOL postings so here goes...

Friday, June 3, 2011


Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life.  Saturday.  1:45pm.  Sunshine Landmark in NYC.  Theater #1.  I can't believe there's only a little more than 24 hours to go....

I'd like to catch X-Men: First Class at some point soon -- maybe one of the early shows on Sunday...

Just sent back Biutiful (dark and intense and very good) to Netflix; not sure what ships next....