Sonic gets a makeover in the 2nd Sonic the Hedgehog Trailer


Earlier in the year, when Paramount released the trailer for the Sonic The Hedgehog movie, audiences were up in arms over Sonic’s look. It was so bad that the production team shelved the film for a bit and reworked the CGI. Six months later, we have a vastly improved Hedgehog, and everything appears to be looking better for the film. The character has more expressive eyes, the classic sneakers and what seems like a new voiceover.

Now we just have to hope that all of that extra work by the effects team is rewarded by moviegoers when the film comes out. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Sonic the Hedgehog, starring Jim Carrey, James Marsden and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, premieres in time for Valentine’s Day of 2020.

“Is The Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman” : Here Comes Box Brown To Save The Day


Don’t look now, but it appears as though Box Brown is making a concerted play for the title of “Best Biographer In Comics” — and he’s doing it by telling the life story of a guy who held a title of his own, that of “World Intergender Wresting Champion.”

Yup, dadaist comedian Andy Kaufman is back under the media microscope in a big way, and it makes all the sense in the world that the cartoonist who chronicled the exploits of Andre The Giant and the history of Tetris in his previous volumes for First Second (who also publish his latest) would be the guy to do it. Kaufman’s never really left the spotlight entirely, of course — his tragically early death, combined with his singularly bizarre (and I mean that in the best possible way) career are more than enough to ensure that his legend will always carry on — but detailed looks at the man behind such memorable characters are Latka Gravas and Tony Clifton have been few and far between. Academy Award-winning director Milos Forman gave it his best shot with Man On The Moon nearly twenty years ago (the title being taken from R.E.M.’s song about Andy — which also never seems to go away completely), but despite a stellar starring turn from Jim Carrey, who absolutely inhabited the role (or should that be roles?) of Kaufman, I think most would agree that the film didn’t quite manage to pierce the veil of its own subject. And so now it falls to Brown to humanize this most alien of talents, and with his graphic novel Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, he (spoiler alert) manages to do it — at least to a greater degree than has been done in the past.

The fleshing-out of important members of “Team Kaufman” such as writing partner/Tony Clifton fill-in Bob Zmuda, girlfriend Lynne Margulies, and manager George Shapiro go some way toward answering the books’ titular question for us, as does a more-than-cursory examination of the future comic’s early years and of his relationship with his family throughout his life. Brown being Brown, though, you pretty much know going in that one particular aspect of Kaufman’s career is going to get the most attention — his turn as a pro wrestling bad guy.

Cue some rather curious side-bars — such as Brown devoting something like 15 pages to a re-telling of the career of Kaufman’s main “nemesis,” Jerry “The King” Lawler , as well as a relating of the history and minutiae of Memphis regional wrestling in general — that very nearly run the book off the rails, and yet things come back together more or less just in time to prevent your interest from waning, even if it is rather curious, to say the least, that Brown spends more time on the Kaufman/Fred Blassie one-off video Breakfast With Blassie than he does on Kaufman’s entire five-year stint on Taxi. Go Figure.

Still, for every lapse in judgment like that, there’s at least one strong choice that Brown makes to ensure that your faith in his storytelling abilities never wanes. He makes it clear, for instance, that yes, Kaufman’s entire “thing” was an act (or, if you prefer, a series of acts), and shows enough of the comedian away/apart from his various ingeniously-constructed personas so that readers finally have a fairly solid handle on where Andy ends and, say, the “foreign guy,” or the misogynist wrestler, begins. This takes a deft touch, to be sure, but the disarmingly straight-forward script is aided in no small part by Brown’s smartly minimalist cartooning that draws special attention to differences in body language, facial expression, etc. that let you know when various “switches” are “flipped.” No one will ever accuse Brown of having a hugely varied repertoire as an illustrator, but his rote and basic forms and figures carry a degree of nuance that their ostensible “simplicity” wouldn’t necessarily be assumed to be capable of conveying. There’s also something of the frank and absurd to Brown’s style that fits this material perfectly — as if something utterly unique unto itself is being communicated in a visual language we can all understand.

A style as no-frills as Brown’s is also highly adaptable, and so whether Kaufman is portraying Elvis, Latka, Tony Clifton, or Lawler’s foil in the ring, the panels transition into each role nearly as seamlessly as did the comic himself. At the end of the day, though, Box Brown’s greatest triumph with Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman lies in the fact that, perhaps for the first time (and thanks, no doubt, to the assistance and participation he was able to obtain from the late performer’s family, particularly his brother, Michael), he finds a way to show Kaufman  — at every phase of his life and career, from his earliest years to his ascension of showbiz’s heights to his painful final days — as his most complex and compelling character of all : himself.

Trailer: Kick-Ass 2 (Extended Red Band)


KickAss2

This past week saw the largest collection of nerd, geek and comic book fandom gathered in one magical place. The place in question is San Diego and the event is called San Diego Comic-Con or simply just uttered in awed whispers as Comic-Con. It is a place that many outsiders have shunned as a place that has no place in good, normal society yet they continue to arrive in larger numbers to ply their products to those they shun. Even this blog has it’s shamers and ignorant individuals who spew insults yet they too continue to visit because deep in their subconscious they know, like those who ridicule Comic-Con and those who attend them with a passion, that they’re the ones out of step with whats not accepted in society.

What does this mean when it comes to the latest trailer for Kick-Ass 2 that just came out of Comic-Con?

Absolutely nothing other than the trailer and the film itself is just another weird meeting of the two cultures. It’s a film that celebrates the ridiculousness and absurdity of the comic book culture, yet it’s one that’s funded by the very same people who insulted the scene just a decade ago.

The first film was a revelation and helped introduced the world to one Chloe Grace Moretz, but it also showed that comic books and films made from them didn’t have to be PG or even PG-13. There was a place for ultra-violence in our comic book films. It also helped bring the name of Matthew Vaughn into the forefront of comic book fandom. While he’s not directing this sequel (he elected to go with X-Men: First Class and we’re all the better for it), he did help in bringing it to life and hand-picked his successor in Jeff Wadlow.

While Kick-Ass 2 is not getting the same sort of buzz from Comic-Con the original film did it is still one film I’m quite interested in seeing just to find out what has happened to our young superheroes and vigilante crime fighters since the last film. Plus, it’s main villain likes to call himself “Motherfucker”.

Quick Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (dir. by Don Scardino)


url-2I don’t have a whole lot to say about The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. It’s such a compact, little film, there’s not much I can say without telling everyone the entire story. The trailer is the movie, let’s put it that way.

When I was little, I owned this deck of magic playing cards. On the back of every card was a circular pattern that told the reader what card they were holding, the next card in the deck and the card at the bottom of the set (if they were shuffled correctly). It only lasted a few days, but the effect of doing the trick – that look of amazement when the trick actually worked – was pretty cool. Once that time passed, the trick was stale and predictable.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is kind of like that. It’s a film that probably won’t be very memorable in the long run, especially when you have other films about magic like Neil Burger’s The Illusionist and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. At the start, it seems awesome, but once the story arcs develop, you may start wondering if you need to stick around for the rest. Truth be told, it’s not a film you have to rush out to see, though there are some scenes to laugh at. On the other hand, if you’re going to the movies just to be entertained, to just laugh for a while, this may be what you’re looking for.

After receiving a magic trick set as kid and watching a training video by the great Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), young Burt Wonderstone decides he’s going to be a magician. He and his new best friend decide to train together over the years, enjoying the tricks until they become The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton. They end up doing so well that they become the headliners for a major Casino for the next 10 years, and this strains their friendship. Anton enjoys the magic for the entertainment it is, and Burt considers himself royalty, feeling a sense of entitlement for all the perks he receives. When Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) appears on the scene with his new tricks, Burt and Anton find themselves facing some serious competition. Can the duo come up with something as amazing as Grey serves up? Can Wonderstone deflate his incredibly huge ego?

The story, written by Johnathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses) and John Francis Daley (Freaks and Geeks) is not bad for what it’s offering. Of the last 3 films I’ve seen (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Identity Thief, Jack & the Giant Slayer), it easily has the best pacing, but you can almost close your eyes and dictate what the next scene is going to be. There’s not a whole lot in the way of surprise, story wise…which I guess is what all the magic is for.  Not saying I could ever come up with anything better, though. For the director, Don Scardino, if this is first movie coming off of the 30 Rock episodes he’s done, he does a good job of keeping the story moving. The cast does well, but there’s nothing amazing with anyone here save for Carrey and Arkin. Carrell is basically himself in this film, which works well enough, and I felt that Buscemi was almost reenacting his role from The Big Lebowski. As a group, it seemed to make sense that Buscemi was the straight man to Carrell’s role.

Carrey’s Steve Grey is a lot like a David Blaine or Criss Angel, performing a mixture of illusion and stunt effects.  I have to admit that while I’m not a huge fan of Carrey’s recent efforts, I really don’t think this film would be as fun as it is without him in it. That the movie offers him up in small doses actually helps things. Olivia Wilde was nice as Wonderstone’s new assistant, but I would have liked her to do just a little more, or even better, she could have played a great rival. The same can be said of Alan Arkin, who had me smiling for most of the time he was in the film (though his appearance does kind of leave something of a plot hole in the story, but that’s just me).

The magic itself is more or less hit or miss. Depending on who you’re watching, the “tricks” were either worthy of a chuckle, made you simultaneously laugh and wince (Just about all of Grey’s were that way) or they showed one or two that made the audience at my showing gasp. For those moments, the movie was worth it, and the comedy is definitely there. Overall, I’d see this again if it were on cable or someone showed it to me, but it’s not a film I’d run right back to.

If only I could get that damn Abracadra song out of my head.

Trailer: Kick-Ass 2 (Red Band)


KickAss2

2010’s Kick-Ass was one of those films that you either loved or hated. It was a film adapted from the Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. comic book of the same name that also had a similar reputation of having extreme opposites in regards to how people perceived it.

I, for one, loved the film despite just being “meh” when it came to the comic. Where the film by Matthew Vaughn was a darkly comic deconstruction of the superhero story the comic book that gave birth to it was just an exercise in shocking the readers without working for it. Yet, despite that the film was a hit with both the fans of the comic book and those who didn’t even know it was a comic book. That popularity allowed the film to make enough profit that a sequel was greenlit even before a second volume of the comic book was even started by Millar and Romita, Jr.

Kick-Ass 2 sees the return of both Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass with Red Mist now calling himself The Motherfucker and the film’s main antagonist. The sequel sees Matthew Vaughn return as producer with Jeff Wadlow stepping in as director.

Kick-Ass 2 is set for an August 16, 2013 North American release date with the film premiering earlier on July 19, 2013 in the UK.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #56: Dumb and Dumber (dir by Peter and Bobby Farrelly)


Last night, I turned on Comedy Central and I watched the 1994 comedy Dumb and Dumber.

Why Was I Watching It?

Last night was my first time to ever sit down and watch Dumb and Dumber from beginning to end.  I had seen several clips on YouTube and I had been assured by many people that Dumb and Dumber was one of the funniest movies ever made.  Last night, since SyFy was not showing an original movie, I decided to find out for myself.

What Was It About?

Harry (played by Jeff Daniels) is dumb and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) is dumber.  Harry has messy hair and Lloyd has a chipped tooth.  They end up getting kicked out of their depressing apartment and this somehow leads to them going on a road trip from Rhode Island to Colorado.  They’re looking for Lloyd’s dream girl, Mary (Lauren Holly).  Along the way, they’re pursued by a gangsters and engage in a lot of disgusting adventures.  It’s a dumb movie about dumb people doing dumb things.

What Worked?

I laughed once while watching the film.  It was a weary laugh that was largely the result of being slowly worn down by the film’s insistence that what I was watching was actually funny.  It wasn’t a sincere laugh.  It was a laugh of surrender but it was a laugh nonetheless.

Jeff Daniels is currently best known for playing Will McAvoy, the smug and condescending center of HBO’s The Newsroom.  That show’s pilot famously started off with McAvoy declaring that the millenials are the “WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER.”  As a member of the WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER, I have to say that there was something oddly satisfying about seeing Jeff Daniels getting continually humiliated (and, at one point, set on fire) in Dumb and Dumber.

What Did Not Work?

Just to judge by the reaction on twitter while Dumb and Dumber was playing, a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this but Dumb and Dumber sucks.  Seriously.  The film’s constant gross-out humor felt more lazy than clever and watching it quickly became as tedious as watching a commercial featuring a celebrity talking to their iPhone.  As I watched Dumb and Dumber, I found myself constantly checking the time and wondering, “Is the film ever going to actually get funny?”

One of the keys to succesful film comedy is that you have to believe that the characters have an actual stake in the film’s plot, regardless of how ludicrous or over-the-top the plot may get.  That stake is the difference between silly and funny.  With Jeff Daniels looking extremely uncomfortable and Jim Carrey apparently acting in a separate movie from everyone else, Dumb and Dumber is silly without ever really being funny.

Maybe it was easier to make people laugh in 1994.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

For once, I’m glad to say that a movie featured absolutely no “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments.

Actually, I take that back.  Both me and Lauren Holly have the same hair color.  So, that was just like me.

But that is it!

Lessons Learned

Comedy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Film Review: The Dead Pool (directed by Buddy Van Horn)


Hi there!  Today, I will be concluding my look at the Dirty Harry series with the final film in the franchise, 1988’s The Dead Pool.

Harry’s back and he’s still carrying a gun.  He’s also older, wrinklier, grouchier, and suddenly famous because he’s just given testimony in a mob boss’s trial.  You would think that Harry would already be famous seeing as how he not only killed the Scorpio Killer but he also rescured the Mayor from all those communists.  But, I guess that’s what Harry gets for living in the same city that’s been sending Nancy Pelosi to Congress for the last 100 years.

Harry and his new partner (Evan C. Kim) are assigned to investigate the death of rock star Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey).  Harry immediately suspects that the murderer was pretentious film director Peter Swan (Liam Neeson).  This is largely because Swan makes the type of horror films that inspire Harry to snarl with disdain.  It also turns out that Swan has been playing a “dead pool” game and that the various celebrities on his list have been getting killed.  And guess what?  Harry’s name is also on that list…

The Dead Pool was the final Dirty Harry film and, in many ways, it also feels like the most generic.  Whereas Dirty Harry actually had quite a lot on its mind and the first three sequels at least pretended to be concerned about something more than just mayhem, The Dead Pool is often content to be a rather cartoonish action film.  With the exception of a rather witty car chase involving a remote-controlled toy car that’s been strapped with an explosive, the action scenes are predictable and Eastwood’s character could just as easily have been named Spinner Mason or Eli Goldworthy.  There’s simply no huge reason for this film to be a Dirty Harry film, beyond the fact that it wouldn’t show up on AMC every few weeks if it wasn’t.

And yet, it’s impossible for me not to like The Dead Pool.  Though the film might feel generic overall, there’s still the occasional moments that hint that the movie is actually a bit smarter than it might first appear to be.  Considering that the film largely takes place on a movie set and features a film critic among its victims, it’s tempting to see The Dead Pool as being almost a spoof on both the Dirty Harry films themselves and the controversy that’s been generated by their violent content.  It makes sense that Harry Callahan’s name would appear on Swan’s dead pool list because, after spending four films battling serial killers, fascists, communists, gangsters, white trash, and a countless amount of bank robbers, the only opponent left for Harry to face is his own reputation.

The Dead Pool has one of the more interesting casts of the Dirty Harry films.  After dominating the previous films in the series,Clint Eastwood steps to the side and instead, allows his supporting cast to run off with the movie.  It’s a little bit bizarre to see Jim Carrey playing  a rock star (and even more bizarre to see him lip-synching to Welcome to Jungle) but that odd touch seems strangely appropriate for a film that doesn’t seem to be too concerned with much more than being entertaining.  Evan C. Kim is one of Harry’s more likable partners and Liam Neeson, complete with pony tail and superior attitude, is a lot of fun to watch as he spoofs every single pretentious filmmaker that you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have taken a film class with. 

For a lot of reasons, The Dead Pool was the last of the Dirty Harry films.  It was a box office disappointment and, even way back in 1988, Eastwood looked a just little bit old for an action hero.  Eastwood has said that he has no interest in playing the character again and that’s probably for the best because, after five films, you have to wonder just what exactly was left for Harry to deal with.  (That said, I’ve always thought of Gran Torino as being the unofficial sixth Dirty Harry film.)

Well, that concludes my look at the Dirty Harry film series and, not coincidentally, it also concludes the month of September as well!  Starting tomorrow, along with all the other usual great stuff that you expect from us at the Shattered Lens, we’re going to be starting horror month!

Enjoy!

Film Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (dir. by Michel Gondry)


Last week, I started a poll to determine which film I should watch on Sunday and review on Monday.  Well, a lot of votes were cast and you, the readers of Through The Shattered Lens, proved to me once again that you are the greatest readers ever by picking one of my favorite films of all time.  From 2004, it’s the Charlie Kaufman-scripted, Michel Gondry-directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The plot plays out like something from a Philip K. Dick story.  I don’t want to reveal too much because I don’t want to ruin the film for anyone who hasn’t seen this film.  Eternal Sunshine is one of those rare films that carries with it the joy of discovery.  Depressed Joel (played by Jim Carrey) discovers that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has hired Lacuna Inc. to totally erase all memories of him from her mind.  Embittered, Joel decides to go through the same process.  The Lacuna technicians (Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo) comes to Joel’s apartment in the middle of the night and start the process of erasing his memories of Clementine.  However, as Joel is losing his past, he realizes that he doesn’t want to lose his time with Clementine.  Hence, Joel finds himself running through his rapidly fading memories of Clementine, trying to save at least some scrap of her memory from being erased.  Meanwhile, as Joel fights to save his identity, Ruffalo entertains himself by inviting his girlfriend (Kirsten Dunst) over to Joel’s apartment while Elijah Wood sneaks off so he can meet his new girlfriend — who is none other than Clementine.

The genius of this Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay is that it takes an idea that seems very much “out there” and uses it to explore emotions that we’ve all felt.  Who doesn’t have someone that they wish they could wipe from their mind?  Me, I wish I could forget the exchange student from Keele University who broke up with me via e-mail.  I’d love to obliterate all memory of the frat boy who told me I was “white trash” or the former love of my life who managed to break my nose and my heart with just one movement of his hand.  We all have those people in our lives and what we forget is that by wiping out all the bad memories, we lose all the good ones as well.  Yes, Paul Walsh may have made me cry with his e-mail but, for two months before that, he held me while I cried and I can’t remember what I was crying about but I do remember feeling like I had never been held like that before.  And Dane may have hurt me terribly but now, every time I doubt myself, I simply remember that I’ve already survived the worst that could happen.  As for that frat boy who called me “white trash” — well, fuck him.  Yeah, there’s really no downside to erasing him from my mind.  In fact, I’ve already started because, to be honest, I can’t remember his name for the life of me.

Ironically enough considering the title, there’s very little sunshine to be found in this film.  Not only is every scene drenched in melancholy but, quite literally, director Michel Gondry appears to have exclusively filmed on overcast days.  For such a deliriously romantic film — one that celebrates the idea of enduring love — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is almost totally told in tones of gray and darkness.  In fact, as I watched the film last night, I was struck by the fact that often times, the only color in the film was provided by the Clementine’s ever-changing hair.  (Interestingly enough, Joel mentions Clementine’s hair as one of the things that he especially wants to forget about her.)  That the film works as both a dark comedy and a love story despite the grim images is a testament to the talents of both screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry.  (On the basis of the director’s later films — the latest being the enjoyable but shallow Green Hornet — I kind of suspect that Kaufman perhaps deserves a little bit more credit that Gondry.)

I think it’s also a testament to the talents of the film’s cast, all of whom gel into a perfect ensemble and allow the audience to believe in the film no matter how odd the film’s events may seem.  As I watched them last night, I found myself thinking about how much I truly love to watch good acting.  As long as a film has one or two good performance, it can be out-of-focus, choppily edited, and an hour or two too long.  By the same token, I find nothing more offensive than a million-dollar film full of expensive technology and boring performances. (Hello, Avatar.  How are you, Battle L.A?)  When I find a film, like Eternal Sunshine, that is actually both well-made and well-acted, I’m pretty much in love.

As the two lovers, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet have a very surprising and very real chemistry together.  Watching them, you believed in their love and then you just as strongly believed in their hate.  This is one of those odd love stories where you not only believed that the two of them would actually get together but you also completely understood how and why Joel eventually drove Clementine away.  Carrey makes Joel’s depression believable without allowing it to get tedious or repetitive while Kate Winslet — well, where to begin?  Kate Winslet is probably one of the best actresses ever and this is one of her best performances.  I’ve always had a bit of a girlcrush on Winslet — there’s an honesty to her performances that few other actresses can match.  When she’s onscreen, the audience is with her.  She never puts up the whole “film star” barrier and, as a result, she inhabits her characters completely and brings them to life with both their strengths and their flaws.  And Clementine has got her share of flaws.  (I remember that when my mom saw this movie, she absolutely hated Clementine and the ever-changing color of her hair.)  Winslet doesn’t shy away from making Clementine human and, as a result, I think she elevated everyone else in the film as well.

As good as Carrey and Winslet are, the supporting roles are well-played as well and, as in all great movies, they give the impression of a world that existed before the movie started and one that will continue after the end credits.  I especially loved the performances of the Lacuna Staff, from Tom Wilkinson’s bland yet intimidating doctor to the creepy geekiness of Elijah Wood.  Mark Ruffalo and Kisten Dunst have a few great scenes where they’re partying the night away in Joel’s apartment while Joel’s memory is slowly erased.  The sight of a very hairy Ruffalo and a very giggly Dunst dancing in their matching panties pretty much epitomizes “geek love” for me.  I know that some people have complained that the scenes with Ruffalo and Dunst seemed out-of-place when compared to the ones between Carrey and Winslet but actually, I love the chemistry between Ruffalo and Dunst.  Even playing one of the nerdiest characters ever, Mark Ruffalo is still hot.  As for Dunst, she’s basically playing the same character that she always plays.  (As my friend Jeff recently put it, “Kirsten Dunst In Her Underwear” is as much of a film genre as drama, comedy, and science fiction.)  But I’ve always thought that she’s a likable enough actress (plus, by going red for Spiderman, she also indirectly helped this redhead’s social life) and she actually provides a nice (if surprising) moral center for Eternal Sunshine.

(Also, I’ll admit right now that if my boyfriend had a job that allowed him to hang out into a different stranger’s apartment every night, I’d probably sneak over and dance around in my underwear as well.)

It took me a while and a handful of viewings to really appreciate Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  When I first saw it, I thought it was a strange film.  I liked it but I never expected that it would become one of my favorite movies.  However, with each viewing, I find myself relating to and loving this film just a little bit more.  So, thank you to everyone who voted in my poll and who gave me a chance to fall in love with this film all over again.

Love ya. 🙂

Poll: Lisa Marie Submits To Your Will


Last year, I gave up control to the reader of the site and you know what?  I kinda liked it in a sneaky, dirty little way.  So I figured, why not do it again?

Of course, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I’m referring to my What Movie Should Lisa Marie Review poll.  This is the poll that led to me reviewing Anatomy of a Murder. 

Here’s how it works.  Earlier today, I put on a blindfold and then I randomly groped through my DVD collection until I had managed to pull out ten movies.  I then promptly stubbed my big toe on the coffee table, fell down to the floor, and spent about 15 minutes cursing and crying.  Because, seriously, it hurt!  Anyway, I then took off the blindfold and looked over the 10 movies I had randomly selected.  Two of them — Dracula A.D. 1972 and A Blade in the Dark — were movies that I had already reviewed on this site.  So I put them back and I replaced them with two movies of my own choosing — in this case, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Between now and next Sunday (March 27th), people will hopefully vote in this poll.  On Sunday, I will watch and review whichever movie has received the most votes.  Even if that movie turns out to be Incubus. *shudder*  (Have I mentioned how much I love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?)

Now, of course, there’s always the possibility that no one will vote in this poll and I’ll end up looking silly.  Those are the risks you take when you set up an online poll.  However, I have a backup plan.  If nobody votes, I will just spend every day next week shopping for purses at Northpark Mall and then blogging about it.  And by that, I mean blogging every single little detail.  So, it’s a win-win for me.

Anyway, here’s the list of the 10 films:

1) Barbarella — From 1968, Jane Fonda plays Barbarella who flies around space while getting molested by …. well, everyone.  Directed by Roger Vadim.

2) Barry Lyndon — From 1975, this best picture nominee is director Stanley Kubrick’s legendary recreation of 18th-century Europe and the rogues who live there.

3) Caligula — Yes, that Caligula.  From 1979, it’s time for decadence, blood, and nudity in the Roman Empire.  Starring Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole, John Gielgud, John Steiner, and Theresa Ann Savoy.

4) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — Oh my God, I love this movie.  Jim Carrey breaks up with Kate Winslet and deals with the pain by getting his mind erased by Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, and an amazingly creepy Elijah Wood.

5) Incubus — From 1969, this low-budget supernatural thriller not only stars a young William Shatner but it also features the entire cast speaking in Esperanto.  For.  The.  Entire.  Movie.

6) Inland Empire — If you want to give Lisa nightmares, you can vote for David Lynch’s disturbing 3-hour film about lost identity, sexual repression, human trafficking, and talking rabbits.

7) Kiss Me Deadly — From 1955, this Robert Aldrich-directed cult classic features hard-boiled P.I. Mike Hammer and a host of others chasing after a mysterious glowing box and accidentally destroying the world in the process.

8 ) Mandingo — From 1975, this infamous little film is a look at slavery, incest, and rheumatism in the pre-Civil War South.  Starring James Mason, Ken Norton, Perry King, and Susan George.  Supposedly a really offensive movie, one I haven’t sat down and watched yet.

9) Sunset Boulevard — From 1950, hack screenwriter William Holden ends up the kept man of psychotic former screen goddess Gloria Swanson.  Directed by Billy Wilder.

10) The Unbearable Lightness of Being — From 1988, Philip L. Kaufman’s adaptation of Milan Kundera’s classic novel (one of my favorite books, by the way) features Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche, and Lena Olin having sex and dealing with ennui.  After I first saw this movie, I insisted on wearing a hat just like Lena Olin did.

Everyone, except for me, is eligible to vote.  Vote as often as you want.  The poll is now open until Sunday, March 27th.

(Edit: Voting is now closed but check below for the results! — Lisa)

What Lisa Watched Last Night: Doing Time On Maple Drive (dir. by Ken Olin)


Early Friday morning, I found myself watching an old school made-for-TV movie, Doing Time On Maple Drive, on the Lifetime Movie Network.  If you’ve heard of this film, it’s probably because it features a kinda young Jim Carrey in a supporting role.

Why Was I Watching It?

Because when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re getting hit by the old insomnia curse, what’s a girl to do put turn on the TV and change the channel to the Lifetime Movie Network?

What’s It About?

The Carters appear to be the perfect American family.  They’ve got a beautiful house in the suburbs (on Maple Drive, no less), the children are all handsome and intelligent, the dad is a succesful businessman, the mom a perfect homemaker, and blah blah blah.  You know how this is going to turn out already, don’t you?  Dad is actually an overly competitive jerk, mom is in denial, the daughter is a neurotic mess, the youngest son is a closeted homosexual, and the oldest child is Jim Carrey.  He’s also an alcoholic and he claims that his name is actually Tim but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still Jim Carrey.

What Worked?

Tolstoy once said that all happy families are the same but that each unhappy family is unique.  The family in this film is unique because — well, oh my God, how dysfunctional can you be?  Not only do you have the judgmental parents and the alcoholic son but you’ve got the frigid daughter and the self-loathing gay son.  Just using one of these stock characters would have made the film’s storyline seem familiar and predictable.  However, tossing all of them into the mix and you’ve got an old school camp classic, complete with dramatic monologues, scary silences, and all the rest.  Though this was originally made and shown by Fox, Doing Time On Maple Drive really does take the beloved Lifetime Family Drama formula to its most logical extreme.

The film is also pretty well-acted and features some familiar faces for those of us who love horror and exploitation films.  For instance, the gay son is played by William McNamara who, if you’re an Argento fan, you may remember his extremely graphic death scene in Opera.

Making the film even more odd, McNamara’s character is engaged to Alison, who is played by Lori Loughlin, the mom from 90210.  How often do you get to see a mix of Argento, 90210, and Jim Carrey on screen?

What Didn’t Work?

Jim Carrey!  Don’t get me wrong, Jim did a good enough job playing his role but the whole time you’re watching the film, you keep thinking “that’s not Tim the alcoholic, that’s Jim Carrey.”

What’s ironic about that, of course, is that Jim Carrey is probably the only reason why anyone ever chooses to watch Doing Time On Maple Drive.  Well, Jim Carrey and insomnia.

(As a sidenote, Jim Carrey had to deliver the line, “I’ve done my time on Maple Drive,” which, of course, meant I had to yell, “We have a title!”)

“Oh My God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

During one dramatic moment, Alison tells her boyfriend, “What’s funny is a part of me always suspected you might be gay…”  This line made me cringe just because I said the exact same thing to one of my ex-boyfriends once.  He started crying.  It was just kinda awkward.

Lessons Learned

If you ever meet the “perfect” family, run away.