Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bring on the feedback!

A dear friend notified me that it was rather difficult for non-Google users to comment on my posts, but now I have made it easier! You can now choose the option of OpenID or just add your name and a URL if you so choose and voila! Your comment will appear below. You can also choose to remain anonymous, but then we'll all wonder what you have hiding up your sleeve...hmmmmmm. ;) No more snarky word verification nonsense!

Next up, a review of Clash of the Titans remake! (hint: it's beyond terrible.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Special Talk Like a Pirate Day DVD Spotlight!

Image be courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (no pirating of images here, matey)

Avast, me hearties! In honor of International "Talk Like a Pirate Day" I take it upon meself, Captain "Cutlass" Ellis, te write a review about o' the best pirate movies of all time: Cutthroat Island.

Now to be sure, not all landlubbers will like this film, because not all of ye squid-faced sons of sea rats like pirates. And you know what happens when people don't like pirates - they walk the plank! Well, more likely they just don't watch the movie. Anyway, back to my heading.

Geena Davis plays Morgan, a pirate captain who must recover a lost treasure as her father's dying wish. Matthew Modine, the eventual love interest (aye matey even pirates need a little love) is the unwitting con man who gets dropped in the middle of the high seas action. The ever-sinister Frank Langella plays Dawg, Morgan's uncle, who will stop at nothing to get the treasure.

There's plenty o' steel, guts, and even a rather annoying monkey, but even though the film got a baaad reception with audiences at the time, it is still a ripping good time, even 15 years later. Pirate queens never do get their proper credit, arrrgh! Ye can tell much of Pirates o' the Caribbean took its inspiration from this film.

I owe my discovery of this film to me best hearty, Libby Cudmore. The DVD edition isn't exactly a treasure trove of special features, but the archival featurette on the making of the film includes swashbuckling interviews with the cast, including the notorious Geena herself.

So today, cast off yer landlubber status, pour yerself some rum and step aboard the Morning Star for some good ol' fashioned, buccaneer high seas adventure!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

DVD Spotlight: Taking a blind date with Date Night

I happened to see Date Night quite by chance at my friend's house not too long ago, and was pleasantly surprised.

There's a little something called a screwball comedy that Hollywood seems to have forgotten the significance of, but Date Night brings it back with a vengeance.

There is something delightfully forgettable about Date Night. It's like a glittering glass of champagne you had at the beginning of the evening, and the next day you can almost remember what it tasted like, and yet not enough to readily identify what the brand was to buy it for next time. Date Night has no real need to actually exist; it just happens to be a whole lot of fun.

Steve Carell plays Phil Foster, a decent guy with a hardworking wife Claire (Tina Fey) and a couple kids living in New Jersey. Claire has a demanding job as a real estate agent, but in an effort to keep some of the romance alive, they have a date night every week. However, even that has become dull and routine. Phil, determined that he's not going to let the spark die out completely in the monotony of their lives, decides to take Claire out to New York City for dinner at the most posh seafood place in town. When they can't get a seat, they take someone else's reservation. They get mistaken for criminals, the chase is on, and hilarity ensues.

Could there be a more perfect pairing of great, talented comedians? What is so charming about watching Fey and Carell act together is you can actually believe these two people would be married to one another. It is comedy with a razor-sharp edge - jokes about infidelity, c-sections, and the like are thrown around with wild abandon. And the few heartfelt talks about marriage sprinkled here and there are sincere without slowing down the film's momentum. And Mark Wahlberg is brilliant as Grant Holbrooke, the swaggering, hot macho guy who hates shirts and becomes an integral part of the poor Fosters getting their identity back.

The only shame is that it all goes by a bit too fast. I got to the end of the film and wondered if there could've been a slightly more coherent plot, but perhaps you're not supposed to think too hard. The genius is in the moments where Claire asks for her husband's coat and he gallantly lends it to her, believing she's cold, only to see her wrap it around her fist and punch her way through a glass door to enter a locked building. To which Phil responds, quite reasonably, "Who ARE you??"

It is interesting to see how this film is a throwback to the capers such as "A Fish Called Wanda" and yet uses a brand of humor that is reflective of people's current tastes now - many of the jokes are so funny because they are so true, and as an old friend of our family once said, "If we weren't all laughing, we'd be crying."

The kind of bawdy, over-the-top humor so indicative of successful films in the 90s (such as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective) has stepped aside in this case for a more sarcastic, edgy humor that tries to put a wry grin on the face of cold reality. In other words - it hurts so good.

Date Night reminds us that win the shit hits the fan, all we have is each other. And that's something no one should ever take for granted.